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Full text of "The First Church in Buffalo, half century discourse, delivered on the evening of Feb. 3d, 1862"

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8.94S 



Clark 
First church in Buffalo 




THE LIBRARY 

OF 

THE UNIVERSITY 

OF CALIFORNIA 

LOS ANGELES 



GIFT OF 

George M. Plough 



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FRANKLIN STEAM PRINTING HOUSE, 

THOMAS, TYPOGRAPHER, 






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Page. 

Introduction, 5 

Half Cerftury Discourse, 11 

Buffalo Gazette, 11 

Young Ladies' School, 11 

Ebenczer "Walden's ]\I arriage, 12 

Organization of the First Church, 13 

"Winne — Middaugh — EzekiolLane — Johnston 13 

Palmer's, first tavern in Buffalo, 13 

Asa Ransom, 13 

Tax Roll in 1789, 11 

Buffalo Village laid out in 1801, lo 

Samuel Pratt — fii"st frame house in Buffalo, 1 ."> 

Missionaries Bacon — Osgood — Holmes, etc., 17 

Prayer meetings in Mrs. Pratt's parlor, 17 

Buffalo contributions to missionary purposes in 1809, IS 

Number of houses in Bufialo 1812 19 

Amos Callender — Goodell — Franklin — Sill — Atkins, 19 

Habits of the Buffalonians, 1812, 21 

Red J acket's opinion of Buffalo morals, 22 

Adelphic Library founded 1811, 21 

Irene Leech's school, 2.j 

First children baptized in Bufl[\ilo, 25 

Names of original members of the First Church, 20 

Retrospective view in front of First Church, 2s 

Piano Forte — only one this side of Canandaigua, 31 

Deacon Goodell's Tavern, 31 

Vessels on the Lake in 1812, 33 

Mails to and from Buffalo, 34 

Sister Churches near Bviffalo, 35 

Burning of Buffalo, 30 

Prices of Provisions, etc., in 1815, .' 37 

Rev. Mr. Squier called 1816, 3.S 

The fii-st Pastor ordained in Ransom's bam, 38 

The singers on that occasion, -10 

Deacon Callender's tuning fork, 40 



836G96 



lY 



CONTENTS. 



Page. 

All the stores closed on the Sabbath, 41 

James and David Remington, 41 

Buffalo Female Bible Society, 1816, 42 

First Episcopal Society formed, 1817, 42 

President Monroe and Joseph Bonaparte, 42 

First Superintendent of the Sunday School, 43 

Flour two dollars a barrel, 1819, 44 

First Methodist Church on the Holland Purchase. 44 

Rev. Mr. Fillmore, its first Pastor. 44 

First Mission School, established by Joseph Dart and Eunice Hosmer, 1821,... 45 

First Church edifice, commenced December 24, 1822, 47 

Its subsequent history — now used as a tenement house, 48 

Surviving members of the First Church, from 181G to 1823, 50 

Rev. Gilbert Crau-ford called, 1824, 51 

Deacon Goodell's bequests, 52 

The present Church edifice of the First Church, commenced June, 1826, 54 

Dedication of the Church, 1827, - 54 

Rev. Sylvester Eaton called, 1828, 55 

Seamen's Chapel built, 1830, 57 

Sailors' Home opened, 1841, 58 

Free Congregational Church formed, 1832, 59 

Re-organized, 1840, 59 

Rev. Dr. Heacock installed, 1846 59 

Miss Dennison's Female Academy, 60 

Rev. Mr. Eaton removes, 1834, GO 

The first church bell inti'odued during Mr. Eaton's ministry, 61 

Rev. Asa T. Hopkins installed, 1836, 63 

Dutch Reformed Church, 66 

North Church— Pearl Street Church. 66 

Pecuniary collections and gifts from 1838 to 1847, 68 

Communicants under Dr. Hopkins' ministry, 69 

Death of Dr. Hopkins, 70 

Shade trees planted in front of Church, 1847, 72 

Rev. M. L. R. P. Thompson installed, 1848, 72 

Proposition to build a new Church edifice, 1852, 73 

AVestminster Church, 74 

Dr. Thompson dismissed, 1860, 74 

. The present Pastor installed, 1861, 76 

The Sextons of the First Church, 77 

Number of Christian ministers graduated from the First Church 77 

Buffalo fifty years ago — and now 79 

Conclusion, §1 

Poem, by Rev. A. T. Chester, S3 



Jfttririiictioiu 



At a meeting of the elders of tlie First Presbyterian Church, in 
Buffalo, held in the month of December last, Mr. Thomas Farnham 
reminded the body that the fiftieth anniversary of the Church would 
occur on the second day of the succeeding February. It was the unani- 
mous opinion of the members present, that steps should be instantly taken 
to secure a proper public celebration of that interesting and memorable 
event. A meeting of the congregation was therefore called, when the 
project was received with universal favor, and Messrs. Farnham, Sawyer, 
Butler, Miller, Glenny, Sherman and Coit were appointed a commit- 
tee to make all needful preparations for the coming anniversary. This 
committee invited the pastor to prepare a Historical Discourse, to be read 
on Sabbath evening, the second of February ; selected the following even- 
ing for a pubHc re-union of members of the congregation from within the 
city and without ; issued a circular addressed to former members residing 
now in other States or towns, inviting them to attend, or, if that were im- 
possible, to communicate such facts and memories as would give interest to 
the approaching celebration. The pastor, who had resided less than a 
year in the city, and had come hither a total stranger, acceded to the re- 
quest of the committee, and on the evening appointed, read to a large 
congregation, assembled in the First Church, the following Discourse. 



VI 



INTRODUCTION. 



On Monday evening another large assemblage was gathered in the same 
place, at which a Poem was read by the Rev. Dr. Chester, and interest- 
ing addresses were dehvered by Geo. R. Babcock, Esq., who presided. 
Dr. Bristol, Dr. Lord, Dr. Heacock, Dr. Smith, Lewis F. Allen, Esq., 
Henry W. Rogers, Esq., the Rev. Mr. Bingham, and the Rev. Mr. Cook, 
of Lewiston. The committee had received co«imunications from many of 
their correspondents, particularly from Rev. Drs. Squier, of New York, 
Thompson, of Cincinnati, Huntington, of Auburn, Beadle, of Hartford, 
Rev. Herrick Johnson, of Troy, Rev. W. DeLoss Love, of Milwaukee, 
Dr. West, of Brooklyn, Messrs. Williams, of Cleveland, Billings, of 
Lansing, Storrs, of Homer, Holton, of Milwaukee, and Major Chapin, 
of the army, expressing the most affectionate interest in the Church and 
in the occasion, and rehearsing recollections of former persons and scenes. 

Such mention was made of these, and such extracts read as the hour 
would allow. 

Immediate^ after the anniversary, the congregation instructed the com- 
mittee to procure and publish, with the consent of the authors, the Dis- 
course, the Poem, the Letters and the Addresses. The task has been 
delayed to give time for reviewing and perfecting the narrative, the 
committee being of opinion that no labor was too protracted to secure to 
the public a trustworthy history of the Church and the city. It was their 
intention at the first to publish the Discourse, adding to it an appendix, 
which should contain the Poem, the letters of correspondents, the addresses 
of Monday evening, and such notes, explanations and reminiscences of their 
own {is would make a somewhat copious and comprehensive history of the 
town during the first half century of its life. But as they pursued their 
pi-eparations, and saw the growing dimensions of their work, they found it 
entirely impossible to do justice to the appendix, and at the same time 
bring the volume within the compass of a reasonable size. They have at 
hand nearly two liundred pages of manuscript, received from correspond- 



INTRODUCTION. yii 



ents. They have made a list of more than fifty well known names of men 
who deserve mention in their notes, together with countless events and trans- 
actions, which they could not omit and be true to their trust as impartial 
historians. Embarrassed by this unexpected abundance of material, and 
unable to reduce it by excerpts or epitomes, the committee very reluctantly 
submitted to their necessities, and concluded to publish only the Discourse 
and the Poem. They are the more reconciled to this alternative, however, 
since the Buffalo Historical Society has come into existence, under auspices 
which ensure an instant demand for all that can contribute to a minute and 
perfect histor}'^ of early times. 

The committee particularly regret the necessity of leaving out of this 
memorial, the very interesting sketch of men and events communicated by 
Mr. Lewis F. Allen, partly at the re-union on Monday evening, and more 
fully in a manuscript which some of them have been permitted to read. 
That document is too valuable not to be secured and put in a permanent 
form by the Historical Society. 

The Discourse is now given to the public with the hope that, being found 
for the most part accurate and trustworthy, it may contribute to the good 
name of those who laid the foundations, the joy of their descendants, and 
tlie prosperity of the dear Mother Church in Buflfalo. 



THE 




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HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 



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On Tuesday, the 14tli of January, 1812, Messrs. 
Smith H. & H. A. Salisbury, booksellers and printers, 
sent forth from their office on Main street, the six- 
teenth number of the Buffalo Gazette. That interesting 
sheet, reflecting all the changeful aspects of the time, 
contained certain prophetic hints from which a saga- 
cious reader would easily conclude, that at no distant 
day the village of Buffalo would give birth to a 
Christian Church. 

In a conspicuous place, headed by a platoon of grave 
capitals, stood the elaborate advertisement of Mr. 
Alanson Wheadon, who respectfully announced to the 
public, that he was about to open a school for the 
purpose of instructing young ladies and gentlemen in 
sacred music. And he desired that whoever wished 
to become acquainted with the aforesaid polite accom- 
plishment, or to encourage the intended school, would 
be kind enough to call at the office of the Salisburys, 
and sign a subscription that was waiting there, for that 
purpose. The publishers of the Gazette., mindful of 



12 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 



the growing demand for melody, added an advertise- 
ment in which they offered, at a reasonable price, 
gamuts for the use of singing schools. Moreover, the 
Rev. J. Alexander, missionary to the Indians, gave 
notice that those who inclined to 'so wise an in- 
vestment, could purchase at the Buffalo book store, 
which establishment was kept in an upper room in 
Pratt's unfinished house, on the corner of Main and 
Swan streets, the Child's Catechism, or a new help for 
instructing the rising generation in the first principles 
of the oracles of God ; a treatise which, being intended 
for babes, was cut up into small pieces, having, as the 
advertiser .was careful to say, seventeen separate sec- 
tions, to which was prefixed an earnest address to 
parents. In advance of all these signs, two zealous 
wranglers had enlivened the columns of the Gazette 
with an elaborate and unsatisfying debate upon the 
doctrine of original sin ; a topic, which, whether it 
was suggested by the conduct of the neighboring 
Indians, or by the more familiar disclosures of life in 
the village, it is, perhaps, impossible now to decide. 
Finally, to give point and certainty to these conspir- 
ing omens, Mr. Philip M. Holmes, whose father, the 
Rev. Elkanah Holmes, had, on the Wednesday previous, 
made Ebenezer Walden happy by fastening the tie 
which boulid the young counselor to Miss Susan Marvin, 
daughter by an earlier marriage of Mrs. Comfort Lan- 
DON, — Mr. Philip Holmes, I say, issued in the Gazette 
a printed call, inviting all the inhabitants of the town, 
who desired to establish an ecclesiastical society and 
provide for the regular preaching of the Gospel, to 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 



13 



meet at the Court House at one o'clock in the afternoon 
of the 2 2d histant. 

Two weeks later the \\6ell known missionary, Thaddeus 
Osgood, being here, organized, on that memorable day, 
the 2d of February, 1812, the First Church of Christ, 
in Buffalo. 

Fifty years exactly have elapsed since that event. 
And we are together to-night to commemorate the 
birth of our beloved Church, and rehearse as best we 
may, the varied story of its first half century's growth. 

By all the tokens by which men judge of events and 
causes, it was full time to plant a church in this rising 
village. It had been a score of years since white men 
began to build their cabins and plant their gardens in 
sight of these shining waters. As early as 1791, a 
ti'ader by the name of Winne, was selling to the Indians, 
tobacco, trinkets and whiskey, from his log cabin near 
the present Washington street bridge. In 1798 there 
were eight white families here, living in a cluster of 
huts on the north side of the creek. The heads of 
these fjimilies were, Winne, the trader ; Middaugh, the 
Dutchman, cooper, hunter, idler, and wit, who, with his 
son-in-law, Ezekiel Lane, occupied a double log house 
a little south of Bonney's Hotel ; Johnston, the Indian 
interpreter, who lived a little south-east of the Mansion 
House ; Palmer, who kept the first tavern in Buffalo, 
renting the building of Johnston ; who afterwards, in 
1801, petitioned Ellicott for a lot on which to build 
a school house ; whose widow dispensed hospitalities 
after her husband's death, at the old stand, opposite 
Exchange and west of Main streets ; Asa Ransom, 



14 



THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 



jeweler, whom we find at Scottsville, on the Genesee 
river, m 1789, who moved in 1801 to Clarence, to keep 
one of Ellicott's three taverns, whose daughter, after- 
wards Mrs. Merrill, was the first, and his son, now 
Col. Harry B. Ransom, of Clarence, the second child 
born on the Holland Purchase, who lived in 1798 in 
a log house just west of the Western Hotel; Maybee, 
another trader, whose store stood in the rear of Glen- 
ny's store on Main street; Robbins, the blacksmith, 
whose shop was between Swan and Seneca streets, on 
the west side of Main; — eight families, dwelling in 
seven log huts, — this was Buffalo in 1798. 

There was an Indian trail to Avon, on the Genesee 
river, but after leaving Buffalo the next house was 
Ganson's, fifty miles off, in what is now the town of 
LeRoy. These settlers hunted and fished and took 
care of their gardens, and when it was possible, drove 
a bargain with the Indians. They obtained game from 
the woods, potatoes from their clearings, and when they 
wanted bread, bought of the Senecas a string of dried 
corn, scooped a hollow in the stump of a tree, bent 
a neighboring sapling, attached to its top a deer skin 
strap, to this a smooth stone, and with this extempore 
pestle, broke the corn into grits which they called 
meal. This is the way the flouring. business was carried 
on at Lake Erie sixty-five years ago. 

The tax roll of that time reports the pecuniary con- 
dition of these patriarchs of the town : Middaugh, the 
most idle and most contented of all the settlers, was 
assessed nine cents, on a property of forty-five dollars ; 
Lane, his son-in-law, was better off, being put down 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 15 

for two shillings, on an estate valued at 140 dollars, 
while the nabob Johnston, who owned half the land 
on which the city now stands, was esteemed worth 
2,034 dollars, and taxed accordingly the sum of 
thirty shillings. Such golden eggs were found in this 
new nest in 1798. 

In 1801, the Holland Company having purchased the 
entire tract lying west of the Genesee river and be- 
tween Pennsylvania and the lakes, excepting only the 
mile strip and the four reservations on which the 
Indians built their wigwams, Mr. Ellicott, their agent, 
laid out the village, numbered the lots, and intending 
to make it his own residence, established it as a con- 
dition of sale, that each purchaser should clear, and 
build, and settle on his land. At that time the Holland 
Purchase constituted a single township on which there 
were perhaps as many as fifty families. For various 
reasons emigrants arrived slowly. In 1803, Samuel 
Pratt, a merchant from Westminster, Vt., a native of 
East Hartford, Ct., having caught the contagion of 
removal, visited this region, and being pleased with Mr. 
Ellicott's prospective city of New Amsterdam, bought 
the lot No. ^, where the Mansion House now stands, 
and the next year removed hither with his family. 
He brought his goods in two large covered wagons, 
and his family in a two horse coach, hung on thorough 
braces, the first vehicle of the kind that ever crossed 
the Grenesee; certainly the first that ever threaded the 
streets or fathomed the gullies of New Amsterdam. 
In 1805, Mr. Pratt erected the first frame house ever 
built in Buffalo. It was a large two story mansion on 



16 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

the south-west corner of Main and Crow streets. The 
carpet which adorned one of its parlors was also the 
pioneer of its kind, being the first convenience of the 
sort which the village had seen. This hospitable family, 
and their spacious house, were for years the joy of 
strangers, who could find little comfort in Crow's 
coarse hut. It was also the home of missionaries, 
Bacon, Osgood, Holmes, Spencer, Cram, and others. 

In 1810, there were, perhaps, a hundred dwellings and 
five hundred people in the settlement. These had 
come from all directions: from Canada, from the valley 
of the Mohawk, from the far East, from Massachusetts, 
from Connecticut, from Vermont. They were of all 
varieties of character, too. Some had left behind ac- 
counts unsettled, and families unprovided for, and had 
fled hither to escape the sheriffs and the paydays. 
Others had been guilty of smuggling, or fraud, or some 
other crime, and setting a great value upon health, 
thought the air of the Western lakes superior to that 
of the Eastern prisons. Some were mere adventur- 
ers, roving, restless, looking for chances, who had 
drifted on the foremost wave from Cape Cod to the 
Hudson, from the Hudson to the Genesee, from the 
Genesee hither, and who were destined to float on 
with every changing moon till death, or the Rocky 
Mountains, should bid them to halt. Mixed up with 
these were men of another and better type, having in 
their composition some of the stuff of which heroes are 
built, — resolute, honest, courageous souls, — sifted out 
of a hundred Eastern towns, and sent here to be the 
architects of the coming metropolis. Such men as 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 17 

Walden, and Potter, and Pratt, and Coit, and Chapin, 
and TowNSEND, and Grant, and Grosvenor, and Hodge, 
and Heacock, by their integrity, their intelHgence, 
their energy, and their well directed and persevering 
labor, laid the foundations of the then infant city. 

It appears, moreover, that there were as many ?is 
thu'ty professors of religion here, pioneers whom Provi- 
dence had sent before to open in the wilderness a 
highway for the ark and the sanctuary and the priests 
which should come after. These devout people did 
not forget the Lord in the land of their exile. Though 
they had no shepherd and no sanctuary and no table 
of fellowship, yet, they came together at regular 
periods, and in some cabin or store or private room, 
prayed and sang psalms and recited the catechism like 
the Hebrew exiles, who centuries before sat by the 
rivers of Babylon and wept when they remembered 
Zion. Mrs. Pratt, and her neighbor, Mrs. Landon, 
whose husband had succeeded Crow in the village 
tavern, early began to pray together, every evening at 
sunset, asking especially that God would send to the 
people a minister, and set up for his servants a church. 
Other good women, — Mrs. Callender, Mrs. Harrington, 
Mrs. Chapin, Mrs. Reese, Mrs. Gillett, Mrs. Pratt, the 
younger, Mrs. Ball, Miss Barker, Miss Granger, came 
in, till the two were nineteen ; and once a week they 
held a female prayer meeting in Mrs, Pratt's parlor. 
Nor did God forget his dispersed children who called 
to him out of their cabins and garrets and shops. As 
early as 1807 the missionaries of Connecticut and 
Berkshire and New York, began to visit at distant 



18 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

intervals this remote and rising settlement. Bacon 
stopped on his way to Mackinaw ; Osgood came over 
from Canada ; John Spencer arrived from the Canan- 
dawa ; Mr. Holmes left his station among the Tuscaroras 
with a twofold purpose, to visit his son and comfort 
and instruct the people. Alexander, the missionary to 
the Senecas, and Hyde, their teacher, did what they 
could to keep alive the outward forms of worship. 
We have evidence also that the people appreciated the 
visits and labors of the missionaries. In 1809 the Con- 
necticut Missionary Society reported that Hev: John 
Spencer had received at Buffalo $8.83 for its treasury. 
That was apparently the first money contributed to the 
cause of missions by the town of Buffalo. Oswego 
gave that year $2.50, and Erie $18.20. The next year 
Buffalo gave $5.06, LeRoy $1.00, Warsaw $1.50, and 
Erie $2.00. In 1811 Buffalo contributed $1.58; in 
1812 nothing. The next year Rev. Simeon Woodruff, 
missionary to New Connecticut, stopped here on his 
way westward, and spending a little time with the 
people, received for the Society $6.25. Who were the 
people that in that early day remembered the cause of 
missions, and out of their penury gave tithes to their 
Master's kingdom? Which of the twenty-one women 
who afterward joined the church, which of the eight 
men who bore the name of Jesus, presented to the 
Lord those first fruits of faith and charity from the 
town of Buffalo ? 

By the labors of good men and women on the 
ground, and the visits of ministers and missionaries 
from abroad, the spark of godliness, otherwise sure to 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 19 

be smothered, was kept aglow, till the time when a 
church should be organized, an altar set up, a fire 
kindled, and the incense of a perpetual worship go up 
to gladden the skies. 

At length it is 1812, and there are one hundred 
houses and perhaps five hundred people in the village. 
It is time there were a church here. And fortunately 
there is ample material for at least a hopeful beginning. 
Amos Callender, upright, accurate and decided, who 
knows how to train unruly school boys, and how to 
keep exact accounts, who can attend a funeral, or 
read a sermon, or pitch the tune in singing, who 
though educated a churchman and passionately attached 
to method, thinks more of his Saviour than of his sect, 
and would leap from any religious establishment to 
save religion herself; Jabez Goodell, who keeps the 
teamster's tavern, and while he takes care of his own 
affairs, is still a man of principle, ready to have part 
in the cause of Christ; Stephen Franklin, who keeps 
a tavern at Black Rock, and has the reputation of 
sound sense and incorruptible virtue ; Nathaniel Sill, 
forwarder, magistrate and merchant, of the firm of 
Porter, Barton & Co., a firm which, like some colossal 
giant, standing with one foot at Oswego and the other 
on the' shore of the Niagara, catches up the merchan- 
dise of the East and hands it over to the schooners 
and the wagons that wait here from the West, — Na- 
thaniel Sill, capable of much business, and correct in 
all his habits ; Samuel Atkins, keeper of a tavern on 
the road to Williamsville, and, though five miles distant, 
is yet too fond of the house of God to stay away; 



20 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

John Seely, the carpenter, who resides two miles be- 
yond Black Rock, but comes in every week to recite 
the catechism to Mr. Hyde; Hyde the Indian teacher 
and ardent saint; — these, and Mrs. Comfort Landon, 
once Mrs. Marvin, a noble woman, full of all matronly 
traits and virtues, with Mrs. Esther Pratt, her associ- 
ate and equal, and Mrs. H-IRRington, wife of a hero, 
and mother of a more than hero, to wit, a missionary; 
and seventeen others who shone as lights in their 
several dwellings; here were people enough, here was 
worth and intelligence and power enough, for an instant 
and hopeful beginning, — out of this material it was easy 
to form a Christian Church. The only question was 
how to support it when formed. Pratt, who though 
not a member of the church, had told his wife that 
for her sake he would himself support a pastor, had 
just died ; Callender had intelligence and integrity and 
executive power, but he had no money ; Hyde was 
zealous and exemplary and devout, but exceedingly 
poor; GooDELL, afterwards so prosperous and so rich, 
was then earning only a comfortable maintenance from 
week to week in his log tavern ; Seely was a mechanic 
dependent on his trade; Atkins had a small farm 
adjoining his tavern; Franklin was poor; Sill just 
beginning to thrive. It would have been difiScult, I 
think, to count five thousand dollars as the aggregate 
of all that these men possessed the day they set up 
and undertook to support their long coveted and loved 
church. But they knew what they were doing. They 
understood who it is that takes in charge the churches 
which His people plant. And just as they had put 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 21 

their seeds into the soil, and waited for God to quicken 
and sustain the growing corn, so they laid the founda- 
tions of the infant church, committing its future to the 
care of Him on whom, as their Head, all Christian in- 
stitutions do constantly depend. Moreover, there was 
very great and instant need of a church among the 
people at that time. 

The habits of the villagers were what might be ex- 
pected to prevail among a people thrown together 
from so many different sources, upon such an unculti- 
vated soil, and leading a rude, eager, frontier life. 
Away from restraints, unacquainted with each other, 
not knowing how long they might remain together, 
without fortunes, many of them without families, in a 
community where public opinion had yet to be formed, 
where laws and schools and customs were yet to be 
established, it is not strange that the people were un- 
scrupulous and careless, and gross. Profanity was rife 
on every hand. Society was held at taverns and 
gaming tables. The Sabbath was a day of pleasure or 
of toil, as choice or convenience required. On that 
sacred *day the streets were full of teams, the stores 
stood open for trade, and men made journeys to transact 
business, or view the country, or visit theii' friends. 
Trades were plied, and amusements conducted, as if in 
coming hither the mass of the people had left behind 
their Bibles, their consciences and their memories 
of sacred time. The children were without competent 
schools or general instruction, and to add to these 
disadvantages and snares, they met at every turn a 
company of obscene idlers, or saw by the way-side a 



22 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

groujD of besotted Indians, Intemperance, too, that 
mother of all the vices, was prevailing to such an ex- 
tent that the Indians themselves had petitioned the 
Legislature to suppress the trade in drinji. It was not 
without a meaning that the Seneca prophet, in declaring 
one of his visions, rehearsed how in a trance the Great 
Spirit had opened his eyes, till he saw in the air over 
his own village, Canadesago, a flock of devils, hovering 
and descending, and seeking a place to ahght. But as 
that was a temperate village, and whiskey barrels and 
drinking places were wanting, the infuriate imps, finding 
no fit perch, directed their flight straight to Buffalo 
creek, where they alighted among the waiting casks, 
and found enough to enjoy and enough to do. 

Tradition tells us the savages had begun to discern 
that their white neighbors were in great need of a 
church. The missionary Cram had been among them, 
and asked permission to introduce the new religion of 
Christ. The chiefs, Red Jacket, Farmer's Brother, and 
the rest, after mature deliberation, are said to have 
returned for answer, that the Senecas had a religion 
already, but as it did not make them very holiest or 
very good they would be quite willing to accept 
another, if they could only first be certain that it 
would do the work. To test the power of Cram's 
religion, therefore, they recommended that he should 
go over to Buffalo, and try it for a few months upon 
the whites. If it made them honest and veracious and 
kind, he might bring it to the Reservation, and the 
Senecas would receive it. I am compelled to acknowl- 
edge, that, so far as I have been able to discover. 



i 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 23 

history is silent on the question whether the missionary 
succeeded sufficiently to warrant his return to tlie 
Indians. But these shrewd savages must have formed 
another estimate of the religion which they were so 
willing at first to reject, when, six years afterward, in 
1817, their corn was killed by a premature frost, and 
famine came among them, so that hundreds would have 
starved had it not been that Hyde obtained and dis- 
tributed more than five hundred dollars' worth of flour 
and meal and meat to their necessities. 

If Buffalo was ever to attain to influence and re- 
spectability in after years, a Christian Church must be 
planted in the midst of the people. Fifty years ago, 
the last week, Mr. Osgood made his fifth annual visit 
to the village. This devoted and indefatigable mis- 
sionary was accustomed once a year to start from Con- 
necticut, journey through Vermont into the Canadas, 
crossing at Niagara, and passing down to Buffalo, 
whence he went westward to Pennsylvania, return- 
ing by a southern route to Hartford. On these tours 
he made himself useful, in every possible way, to the 
settlements, where he was welcome. By visiting the 
schools and conversing with the children ; by going 
from house to house, instructing and comforting the 
people ; founding village libraries, and contributing 
money or books, to make a beginning ; organizing 
churches ; attending funerals ; preaching in private 
houses, or wherever a congregation could be gath- 
ered ; administering baptism to children, and the sup- 
per to saints, making .himself a bishop of souls and 
an apostle of Jesus Christ, he laid the foundations of 



24 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

religious prosperity wherever he went. The Adelphic 
Library, which was the first institution of the kind in 
Western New York, and which was in existence here 
in 1811, was founded, no doubt, by the labors and 
gifts of this good man. Mr. Osgood arrived here from 
Canada late in January, 1811, and was the guest, I 
presume, of Mr. Heman B. Potter. He remained two 
weeks. 

In a journal written at the time, and preserved in 
the FanopUst of the following July, he says : — 

" There appeared more attention to religious in- 
struction and to divine things in general, in Buffalo, 
than I witnessed anywhere else in the new settle- 
ments. By the request of a number who had pro- 
fessed religion previous to their removal thither, I 
organized a church, consisting of ten members, to 
which were added, after a suitable examination, fif- 
teen others, who gave hopeful evidence of their being 
duly qualified for admission to a church. On the fol- 
lowing Sabbath we celebrated the Holy Supper, for 
the first time in that town ; on which occasion there 
were thirty who partook, five of whom were occasional 
communicants. A female praying society is established 
in that town, consisting of nineteen members. They 
meet weekly for prayer and almsgiving. There were, 
last winter, five schools taught in the town, all of which 
I visited, and was happy to find them in general well 
regulated. Two of the instructors offered prayers in 
their schools, morning and evening. A number of 
young people in the place appeared to be anxious to 
know what they should do to be saved." 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 25 

The female prayer meeting of which he speaks was 
the one which originated with Mrs. Pratt and Mrs. 
Landon. Their ahns may have been bestowed in part 
upon the missionaries, and especially upon Osgood, 
who reports that he received at one time for his cause 
nearly fifty dollars from friends in Buffalo. The two 
schools that were opened with prayer were doubtless 
Mr. Qallender's, kept in the school house on the Fobes 
lot, and Mss Irene Leech's school for girls, which was 
held in one of the rooms of Mr. Pratt's house, on 
Crow street. 

Fifty years ago to-day, the First Church in Bufflilo 
was organized, and began its journey in the great 
march of the Churches. The services on that impressive 
occasion were held in the then unfinished Court House. 
There, behind the rail, in the judge's chair, was Os- 
good, the beloved missionary, his benignant face ra- 
diant with unusual love. And many a child who had, 
during the week, sat on his knee and listened to his 
stories, or read his books, or recited the catechism, 
wished that the good man would but turn a glance to 
them. And there, on their rough benches, sat the 
rustic but attentive audience. And when it was asked 
whether there were any children to be baptized, all 
eyes were turned to Mr. and Mrs. Callender, as they 
led forth their three daughters^ whom we have since 
known as Mrs. Ketchum, Mrs. Hamlin, and Mrs. Wil- 
cox, and the father holding them up, one after the 
other, the names of Louisa, and Charlotte, and 
Lydia, were pronounced, and the Sacraments of the 
Church were for the first time administered. 



26 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

The names of the original members, who came from 
other Churches, or who joined by profession of their 
faith, were: — 

Jabez B. Hyde, Amos Callender, 

Rusha Hyde, Rebecca Callender, 

Samuel Atkins, Comfort Landon, 

Anna Atkins, Esther Pratt, 

John J. Seely, Jabez Goodell, * 

Elizabeth Seely, Nancy Hall, 

Stephen Franklin, Ruth Foster, 

Sarah Franklin, Kesiah Cotton, 

Nathaniel Sill, Kesiah Sill, 

Kesiah Holt, Nancy Mather, 

Sally Haddock, Henry Woodworth, 

Nancy Harvey, Sophia Gillet, 

Sophia Bull, Mary Holbrook, 

Betsey Atkins, Lois Curtiss, 
Sarah Hoisington. 

Stocking was here, but was not yet a member of 
the Church. 

It may be interesting to remember, that on the suc- 
ceeding Thursday, that is, on the 6th of February, 
1812, Newell, and Hall, and Judson, and Nott, and 
Rice, the first missionaries of the American Church to 
heathen lands, were set apart to their work in Salem, 
Massachusetts. Our Church is thus of twin birth with 
that great work of preaching the gospel to the nations. 
May it ever be a zealous, efficient and successful fellow- 
laborer in that glorious enterprise. 

There was now a Church in Buffalo, but no Pastor. 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 27 

On the Sabbath the congregation met in the Court 
House, where, if a preacher chanced to be present, 
they heard a sermon; if not, they filled the time with 
such other exercises of prayer and praise and exhorta- 
tion as their own gifts and members could produce. 
Deacon Stocking sometimes led the singing. But his 
voice catching the mood of his mind, was over-modest, 
so th^t he always pitched the tune too low, while his 
friend Callender, who did what he did with a will, 
was in danger, on occasions, of commencing too high. 
It is not strange, therefore, that before his arrival, 
there was a felt need of some musical mediator, some 
leadei' like Ketchum, to direct the services of song in 
the house of the Lord. To these Sabbath meetings, 
held in the Court House, many a stranger directed his 
steps, as, journeying westward, and detained by storm, 
or weariness, or mud, he heard from his hostess, Mrs. 
Landon, or from Deacon Goodell, or Mr. Pomeroy, that 
there was a people here who worshipped God ; and 
while his jaded horse mused in the warm stall, and 
forgot three hundred miles of travel over the full and 
generous crib, the master, guided by some friendly 
hand, took his way to the house of prayer, to join, 
perhaps for the first time in many weeks, in the 
songs of the sanctuary, and the supplications of those 
who call upon God in the solitudes of the wilderness. 
We have seen the infant Church. Let us go forth 
and look at the infant village. It is the summer of 
1812. We take our stand in front of the site of the 
present Church, and in the middle of what is now 
the public street. Here we can discern well nigh all 



28 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 



that there is of Buffalo at this period of its history. 
What do we see? Not the village — not houses — 
we must look a second time to behold these. Woods, 
openings, swamps, solitudes — this is our first impres- 
sion. We are looking northward. This wide open- 
ing, cut through the forest, and reaching to yonder 
distant hill, on which we s<^e here and there a low 
wood house or cabin, is Yan Staphorst avenue. It 
will, at some future day, shake off its shadows, and 
dry up its mud, and clear away its adjoining woods, 
the oaks on the east, the chestnuts on the west, and, 
dropping its Dutch name, will step forth into history, 
yes, and into fame, too, making itself known as the 
Main street of Buffalo. 

This other opening towards the north-west, extend- 
ing like a wide lane through the woods as far as the 
eye can reach, on which there is now but a single 
house, — this is Schimmelpennick avenue, to be called in 
a better age, and a less barbarous dialect, Niagara street. 
This broad highway, which runs southward to the creek, 
with Eli Hart's store on the west, and further down 
and on the other side the house and store of Mr. Lewis ; 
in the middle of which we see Metcalf's rude stage, 
and beyond it two huge covered wagons from Albany, 
floundering together in unfathomable mud, — this is 
Willink avenue. That high mound over which some 
school girls are clambering on their way to the creek, 
to gather blackberries and grapes, and from the top of 
which Mr. Landon is showing some of his guests the 
outspread and beautiful lake, is the Terrace. On the 
left of this avenue, and running eastward, are Swan 



i 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 29 

and Seneca, and farther down, Crow streets. It is 
only a few years since Mr. Henry Chapin asked leave 
of Mr. Ellicott to enclose Seneca street and make a 
garden of it. That crowd of women gathered around 
the windows of the jeweler's shop, on the east side of 
the street, is a bevy of matrons and maids from the 
reservation, who are regaling their eyes with the sight 
of Mr. Hull's new trinkets and jewels. This other and 
less artistic group, on the corner of Seneca street, upon 
whom Mr. Cook is dashing buckets of cool and peace- 
producing water, is a knot of tawny vixens, made 
furious by jealousy and drink, who seek to relieve their 
rage by plucking at each others' flashing eyes and 
raven locks. 

These two avenues, opening westward, are Vollenho- 
ven and Stadtnitski. This spot on which we stand is 
the semi-circular front of Mr. Ellicott's favorite and 
princely lot. Here he intends to plant his own resi- 
dence. This sloping ground descending to the lake he 
expects to lay out and adorn in the most perfect taste. 
With a little labor they will make most beautiful mead- 
ows, he writes to Cazenove. And this spacious and 
beautiful lot, extending on the front from Eagle street 
to Swan, running eastward till it covers a hundred 
good acres, from which the woods are already cleared 
off two-thirds the way, so that that central hillock, 
crowned with its overhanging and imperial oak, under 
whose shade Farmer's Brother and Red Jacket, and 
Cornplanter, and Snake, and other chiefs, love to loll 
or hold palaver with the whites — can be clearly seen 
— this splendid site, on which so much of history waits 



30 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

to be enacted; the United States Bank to be built — 
Rathbun's bubble to fill, and rise, and break — the 
Clarendon to burn — is Mr. Ellicott's selected home. 
Here he intends to erect a princely mansion. Out of 
his north windows he will look up the populous and 
peaceful Van Staphorst avenue. Prom his south piazza 
he will gaze on the bustle and the thrift of Willink 
street. From his front balconies he will catch sight of 
Black Rock, and Canada, and the Lake. 

But let us fix attention for a moment on the village. 
Here are nearly a hundred houses, all of wood, with 
one exception, and all low and small, and exceedingly 
modest. They have even a downcast look, as if they 
were never intended for exhibition. One might almost 
imagine that they had clambered up from the sur- 
rounding fens, to dry themselves for an hour on the 
sunny spaces and the little uplands, and get back again: 
and that we had caught them unexpectedly in this 
open daylight. Woods, clearings, houses, mud — this is 
Buffalo in 1812. Below the Terrace, on the west side, 
is a vast swamp, full of thorn bushes and alders, and 
pond lilies and frogs. Eastward there is another. 
There is an impassable swale, fringed with black ash 
trees, between Seneca and Swan streets, while beyond, 
towards the Reservation, is a marsh where the cows get 
mired, and a wilderness where the truants are lost. 
Woods, clearings, houses, mud. Not a plank on the 
sidewalk. Not a pavement in the streets. Not a lamp 
post from Deacon Goodell's to the Terrace and the creek. 
Let us go up Van Staphorst or Main street. Here, on 
the east side, above Eagle, and just where McAr- 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 31 

thur's is now, stands the pride of the village, the brick 
mansion of counselor Walden, Within, there is a lady, 
and what can be said of no other dwelhng this side of 
Gregg's, in Canandaigua, there is a piano there as well. 
So that culture, hospitality and music combine to make 
Mr. Walden's abode the resort and the joy of his 
neighbors. 

We pass on, noting now only the buildings on the 
east side of the way. North of Walden's, in a clear- 
ing which is now the Park, stands the unfinished Court 
House. There the Church was organized. There the 
congregation worships. We go on, by woods, and over 
gullies, passing Oziel Smith's and Lovejoy's, which is 
destined to survive the general ruin, and remain a 
monument for half a century — by Lovejoy's, by Mrs. 
Bemis', by two other huts, which are to shelter Love- 
joy's son from the fire of the Indians when he flies 
for his life — by a Dutchman's hovel near Tupper street, 
till we reach Deacon Goodell's tavern, on the spot where 
Mr. Spaulding now lives. This is a little log house, 
very poorly furnished, the last in the village, and is 
known as the Teamster's Tavern. On the way we 
have met several groups of Indian children at their 
sports, and been glad to hear, that, though their fathers 
are so grave, and their mothers so silent, and the old 
ones are grown voiceless and glum, the young ones 
are still the children of nature, having ability to leap, 
and laugh, and shout. Returning from Deacon Goodell's, 
we mark, on the west side of Main street, a log house, 
in front of where Mr. Barton now lives. This is for 
the present Judge Campbell's residence. He will soon 



32 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

establish himself lower down, and on the other side of 
the street. Near to Campbell's is Roop's, and farther 
south, at the corner of what is now Tapper street, we 
pass Judge Tupper's house, taking note especially of 
the fine orchard behind it. Near Chippewa street 
stands Henry Ketchum's house. From behind his 
barn the British will fire on poor Lovejoy when he 
comes down from Black Rock, to look after his family, 
in that day of rout and fire and terror. And the dis- 
tracted father will be compelled to turn and fly, though 
he is in sight of his house, and knows not the fate of 
his wife and children. At the corner of Huron street 
is Elias Ransom's tavern. On the other side of the 
way he intends to erect a barn, which we shall hear 
of when it is done. Below this, between Mohawk and 
Court streets, are St. John's Tavern, then Townsend 
& Curtis' store, near the present site of the Savings 
Bank, then Dr. Ebenezer Johnson's, then John Had- 
dock's, then Samuel Pratt's, which brings us back to 
Eagle street. Below, on the west side of Main, we 
pass Eli Hart's store, and Dr. Chapin's, and on the 
other side of Swan, Samuel Pratt's store, then Draper 
& Daly's grocery, then Robbins' blacksmith shop, 
Cook's barn, and finally his tavern, which brings us to 
Seneca street, below which are Davis' store, and Gil- 
lett's. On the east side of Main street, between Swan 
and Seneca, are Lewis' house and store, Grosvenor & 
Heacock's, Forward's house, the post ofl&ce, Stocking 
& Bull's hatter's shop, and Pomeroy's tavern. Be- 
tween Seneca and Crow streets are Vincent Grant's 
store and Timothy McEwen's shoe shop. On the south 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 33 

side of Crow street are Mrs. Pratt's and Landon's, 
with Johnson's log house still standing at the east end 
of his garden ; while on the north side are Le Cou- 
TEULx's drug store, Hull's jeweler's shop, Foster's 
saddlery, and Juba Storrs' store. Judge Barker's 
house, Despard's bakery and Reese's blacksmith shop 
are on what is now Washington street, between Crow 
and Swan. 

On the east side of Pearl street, and south of Swan, 
Callender lives. North of him, and on the other side, 
in the angle of Pearl and Erie streets, stands the school 
house, south of which is Folsom's, while farther north, 
and near Niagara, is the house of Heman B. Potter. 
Dr. Cyrenius Chapin, who tried to buy the whole 
township, and who was forward in so many endeavors 
for the public good, lived near where Dr. Trowbridge 
now lives, on Swan street. This is the village of 
Buffalo in 1812. 

There are four or five little vessels on the lake car- 
rying merchandise to Erie or Detroit, and bringing 
back whiskey to Grosvenor & Heacock, or whitefish to 
Sill, or furs to the as-euts. Mi\ Peter Colt informs 
the readers of the Gazette^ that the new sloop Friend 
Goodwill runs from her wharf at Black Rock to De- 
troit and back, having good accommodations and a 
well-furnished cabin, at the moderate sum of twelve 
dollars for passengers, and one and a half per barrel, 
for merchandise. 

The eastern mail, by way of Batavia, arrives once a 
week, unless the roads prevent, being brought in a 
covered wagon by Mr. Ira Metcalf, an energetic and 



34 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 



honest man, well esteemed of all who know him. The 
western mail goes out once a fortnight, under the 
charge of brave John Edwards, who travels now on foot, 
or now on horseback, as his burden and the .state of 
the roads may chance to suggest. The nearest post 
offices are Erie on the west, and Niagara on the north. 
Not less than twenty families per day pass through the 
village on their way to the West, halting here, some- 
times to rest their jaded horses, sometimes to restore 
their sick, sometimes to bury their dead. A mother, 
with her children, stops at Landon's. They are going 
to New Connecticut to join the husband and father, 
who has at last cleared his acres, and put up his log 
hut, and awaits the arrival of the loved ones from the 
East. The oldest boy has fallen sick on the road, or 
the daughter, or perhaps the mother herself, worn out 
with care and labor. And good Mrs. Landon must go 
to the grave with her stranger guests, and send for- 
ward, next day, the mother bereft, or the children 
motherless. 

Occasionally the village is astir with tidings that a 
Sheriff has arrived from some city or town in the East, 
when certain of the more sensitive sort, finding that 
they have pressing business in Canada, quit their cups 
at Landon's, or their gaming tables at Cook's, and 
make haste to reach the safer shore of the Niagara. 
Such is Buffalo in itself 

Now, if we take a wider glance, and view the 
Church which Osgood had just set up, in its relations 
to the surrounding territory, and to sister churches, 
we find that in 1812, there were upon the Holland 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. . 35 

Purchase, that is, upon that portion of the State of 
New York which lies west of the Genesee river, 25,000 
inhabitants, nine-tenths of whom were poor, and ninety- 
nine-hundredths of them living on little clearings, in 
log houses. To illumine this vast wilderness, there 
were, at that time, four little churches in the territory 

— one at Warsaw, fifty • miles east, founded in 1807, 
and having thirty members, but no pastor; one at Og- 
den, ten miles this side of Rochester, founded in 1811, 
with ten members; one at Pomfret, founded in 1810, 
with twelve members; and our mother Church, with 
her twenty-five members. These were the luminaries 
that in that early night shone down on a domain of 
more than four millions of acres. 

A clergyman who passed through this region in the 
Spring of 1813, wrote to the Payioplist : — 

''In the Holland Purchase there is a wide field for 
missionary labor. This tract is about ninety miles 
square. In the southern parts of it, there are a vast 
number of people, and I think but two churches 
formed, and these small. In some places, I hear, lately, 
there is a degree of religious excitement in the minds 
of the people." 

As I said, the infant Church in Buffalo had begun 
to exist, but had no pastor. The people celebrated 
worship on the Sabbath and during the week as best 
they could. So passed the first year of their history, 

— the first, and eleven months of the second, when 
the village was invaded, its inhabitants put to flight, 
its houses burned, and the Church, seemingly riven 
into fragments, was swept by the sudden tornado into 



36 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

the wilderness for a retreat. On that terrible winter 
night, the 30th of December, 1813, when mothers and 
daughters, and men, some in wagons, some on foot, 
rushed over the frozen ground into the sheltering 
woods, and, looking back from the nearest hill-tops, 
saw the village on fire, while through the darkness 
came the yell of the victorious savages, — who that has 
ever read the story will forget what the exiles of Buf- 
falo suffered in those few hours of terror and flight? 
Hyde hurries away in a one-horse wagon, to the reser- 
vation, to take shelter with the Indians. Callender 
goes to Batavia. The others disperse, some to Ham- 
burgh, some to Willink, some to Clarence — opening 
ofl&ces and stores, and trying to tide over till Spring, 
when they hope to return and rebuild their desolated 
village. In the Spring they begin to come back. 
House after house goes up. By the first of June there 
are in the village twenty-three dwellings, occupied by 
families, three taverns, and four dry goods stores. So 
soon as a sufficient number of the members of the 
Church are here, they commence worship again. But 
the Court House no longer stands, and till that is re- 
built, they must convene sometimes in Townsend & 
Coit's new store, sometimes at Ransom's tavern, or in 
the attic of Mr. Callender's house on Pearl street. 
By the Summer of 1815, the town is fully restored. 
But calamity and war, and the consequent interruption 
of travel and paralysis of traded have made money 
scarce and provisions dear, and the people, though re- 
stored to their homesteads, are hard beset to meet the 
wants of their families. As there are not beds enough 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 37 

for the lodgers, each house must accommodate board- 
ers. Flour is $15 a barrel, potatoes $1.50 per bushel, 
butter 50 cts. per lb., milk 12 cts. per quart, cheese 
42 cts. per lb., meats 12|^ cts., fowls $1.00 a pair, 
shirting 5s. 6d. per yard, tea 12s. per lb., coffee 3s. 
per lb., sugar 3s. per lb., a hat $8.00, a plug of tobacco 
2s., nails 2s. per lb., powder 8s. per lb. But the peo- 
ple struggle on, and now that prosperity begins to 
dawn, and the Church is more than three years old, it is 
time to look in earnest for some one to take charge of 
them, and be pastor of the restored and enfeebled 
flock. Atkins and Seely are dead, but the Church 
must have a shepherd. Where shall he be found? 
Whom will the Lord send to take charge of this flock 
in the desert? At Utica there has been formed a 
young people's Missionary Society for Western New 
York. This Society, in the year 1815, employed a 
young licentiate from Vermont, a student of Andover, 
to travel through the western settlements and obtain 
information and organize auxiliaries. This young man, 
then in his twenty-fourth year, arrived in Buffalo early 
in August. 

Mr. Callender, who had been clerk in Grosvenor 
& Heacock's store since the buraing of the town, had 
erected and covered a small house on Pearl street, and 
without waiting for the plasterers, had brought his 
family from their log house, at the Cold Spring, and 
in January, 1816, commenced housekeejoing, hospitality, 
a school on week days, and on the Sabbath, meetings 
for the worship of God. To this point the stranger 
directs his jaded horse, and on a warm August morning. 



38 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

Mr. Callender makes acquaintance with his destined pas- 
tor, the Rev. Miles P. Squier. Mr. Squier becomes the 
guest of Mr. Potter, remains in town two weeks, preach- 
ing in an unfinished hall in Landon's tavern. When he 
left, he had in his pocket a written request, signed by 
many of the people, asking him to remain a year, 
on a salary of one thousand dollars. Three months 
later he re-visited Buffalo, preaching in Kibbe's tavern, 
which, either because it soared above all the others or 
had reasons which it did not divulge for its name, took 
the somewhat lofty and remarkable sobriquet of the 
Eagle. In December the people united in an ecclesi- 
astical society, appointed Holt, and Sill, and Harrison, 
and Stocking, and Frederick Miller, and Heman B. 
Potter, trustees, assumed the title of the First Presbyte- 
rian Society of Buffalo, and on the 16th of January, 
1816, called the Rev. Mr. Squier, on a salary of one 
thousand dollars, payable entirely by private subscrip- 
tions. How they were ever made to believe that they 
could raise that sum, or what assurance the young 
pastor had of their extravagant, and as they proved, 
uncertain pledges, does not now appear. On the 31st 
of the same month, Mr. Squier signified his acceptance 
of the call, and was ordained on Friday, the 3d of 
May, 1816. The interesting ceremony of inducting into 
office the first pastor of the first church of the then 
infant town, took place in a new barn belonging to 
Elias Ransom, standing on the east side of Main street, 
just north of what is now Genesee street, and nearly 
opposite to Ransom's tavern, which stood on the lot 
occupied now by Sidway's store. The Court House 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 39 

was not completed; Mr. Callender's attic was too 
small ; so was the school house ; so was the room in 
the Eagle tavern. There would be a large attendance ; 
people would come from adjoining towns ; there was 
no other alternative, Ransom must fit up his barn, 
which had been raised and covered, but never used ; 
must make it a sanctuary, before it could become 
a hostelry. The good-natured taverner, moved by 
his own kindness, moved even more, perhaps, by the 
entreaties of his daughter Sarah, who had just come 
from Miss Pierce's school, at Litchfield, and joined the 
church on a letter of recommendation fi'om Dr. Beech- 
ER, consented. Extempore benches were made, a little 
platform built, and Ransom's barn was for a time a 
temple, which neither God nor his people despised. 
That 3d day of May, 1816, was a day to be remem- 
bered in Buffalo. The place of meeting, the congrega- 
tion, the ministers present, the singers, the services, 
all were of a character to leave a deep impression 
upon the minds, even of the children, who attended. 
There, among the ministers, was noble John Spencer, 
who, having been in Buffalo to look after Christ's sheep 
every year since 1809, had come over now, from his 
residence on the Canadawa Creek, to charge the new 
shepherd to take heed to himself and the flock en- 
trusted to his care. And there was Dr. Axtell, the 
able and well-known pastor of the church in Geneva, 
who was here to preach the ordination sermon, and 
three others the ensuing Sabbath. Hubbard, from 
Warsaw, was present too, to deliver the charge to the 
people. But look at this noble group of singers on 



40 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

the east side, and north of the platform. There are 
Deacon Stocking, and Mr. Coit, and Gen. Potter, and 
Glen. Storrs, and Mr. Grosvenor, and Mr. Pratt, and 
Mr. Cutler, now of Rochester, and Mrs. Heacock, and 
Mrs. Marshall, and Mrs. Kibbe, and Mrs. Fields, Mrs. 
Haddock, and others, led by Deacon Callender, who 
will be sure not to flat the key to-day. They have 
learnt two new tunes for the occasion, St. Asaph's and 
Pleyel's Second. And the hymns happily we have two 
of them. Must it not have been with an emphasis and 
a meaning that those servants of song, full of the 
memories of other days, chanted together, 

In each event of life, how clear, 
Thy ruHng hand I see. 

And was there not something prophetic in their 
melody, when, with power and earnestness, and up- 
lifted voice, they told the rafters, and told the people, 
and told to passers by on the street, yes, and sent the 
echo to the ears of the savage and the stranger, that 

Jesus shall reign where'er the sun, 
Does his successive journeys run. 

It was observed that Mr. Callender took care to 
bring his tuning fork to church that day. The ordi- 
nation services were held in the forenoon. In the 
afternoon Mr. Smith, a strolling preacher, of the Uni- 
versalist order, having given notice of his intention, in 
the streets, held forth in the same barn, Mr. Cal- 
lender was requested to be present and lead the 
singing, a service which he very resolutely declined. 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 41 

Having received charge of the congregation, Mr, 
Squier devoted himself at once to his proper work He 
preached sermons, and dehvercd addresses, and pubhshed 
articles, exhorting the people to all due endeavors to 
enforce order and set a curb on vice, and erect a vir- 
tuous, loyal and happy community. The people valued 
his labors and were prompt to second them. They 
formed a so(^ety to promote public morals, engaged 
to abstain themselves, and so far as they had influence 
or power, to hinder others from Sabbath-breaking and 
the vices to which it so commonly leads. The next 
Sabbath, all the stores in the village were closed. 
Eight persons, of whom one was the ever-to-be-remem- 
bered Deacon Joseph Stocking, joined the church 
in 1816. The next year thirty-seven, and the next 
thirty-four, were added. Of these were the two broth- 
ers, Ja]\ies and David Remington, who entered and hon- 
ored the christian ministry. David Remington, was a 
young man of superior talents, affectionate temper, and 
devoted piety. He was therefore a great favorite 
among all who knew him. Having finished an educa- 
tion by the aid of the church, and especially of the 
ladies of the church, he was married in 1821 to Miss 
Esther Low, a teacher among the Senecas, and receiv- 
ing an appointment from the American Board, went 
forth as a missionary teacher to the Choctaws, in 
Georgia. The distance to that far-off country was then 
so great, and the delays and perils of travel so ex- 
treme, that the parents and friends of Mr. Remington 
took an affectionate leave of him, never expecting to 
see his face as-ain on earth. 



42 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

Three years afterward, his health failing, he returned, 
completed his education, was licensed and became 
pastor of a church in Rye, in this State, where he 
died suddenly of disease of the heart. His brother, 
the Rev. James Remington, is well-known in this 
region, being now the honored and venerated pastor 
of the church in Alden. 

In September, 1816, the Buffalo Femalg Bible Soci- 
ety was organized, with Mrs. Heacock for President, 
and Miss Campbell, Secretary. This Society collected 
the first year, one hundred and fourteen dollars, and 
spent ninety; distributed one hundred and thirty- two 
Bibles ; two thousand and five hundred tracts and cate- 
chisms, and had on hand thirty Bibles and thirteen 
hundred tracts and catechisms. In August, 1817, the 
Buffalo Sunday School Society was formed. 

In February, 1817, the first Episcopal Society was 
organized in this village. In August, of the same year. 
President Monroe was here, and in the succeeding 
September, Joseph Bonaparte. It was during this 
summer of 1817, also, that the Senecas suffered so 
extremely from famine. There were fourteen deaths in 
Buffalo during the year 1818. Of these, three were 
strangers, ten children, and four adults. 

In July, 1818, Mr. Henry R. Seymour joined the 
church; a man, whose simplicity, sincerity, integrity, 
accompanied as they were, by unceasing liberality 
towards every good cause, do lasting honor to his 
memory, as they did enduring good to the church. 

Matters were wearing a prosperous look in the young 
church, except that in November of this year, •1818, 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 43 

the trustees found themselves compelled to announce 
that the subscription for Mr. Squier's salary was quite 
inadequate to the use to which it was to be put. A 
new subscription was ordered, and Heman B. Potter, 
and Deacon Stocking, and Mr. Sill, and Jasper Corn- 
ing, and Holt, who joined the church ten months 
before, were commissioned to circulate and enforce it. 
They did their work thoroughly, reporting the names 
of one hundred and five subscribers, and an aggregate 
of $820 a year pledged to the Society's account for 
salary. It speaks well for the character of the then 
leading men in Buffalo, that three-fourths of this sum 
was contributed by persons who were not yet members 
of the church. But eight hundred and twenty dollars 
promised, are not eight hundred and twenty dollars in 
hand, and if .they were, they could not pay a salary 
of a thousand dollars. We shall look for trouble, 
therefore, from the subsequent meetings of such ac- 
complished trustees as Potter, and Stocking, and 
Sill, and Corning, and Holt. Certain other events, 
however, have a more favorable look. There is a 
prospect that Mr. Ellicott will acceede to the request 
of the people, and give them a lot on which to build 
a house of worship. Perhaps he will add, as he has 
done in Batavia, a gift of a thousand dollars towards 
the building, if it be of wood, or fifteen hundred if of 
brick. Moreover, two years ago, Jasper Corning, 
brother of Mrs. Townsend, took up his residence here, 
and in 1816 was appointed first superintendent of the 
Sunday School. 

On the whole, 1819 opens with somewhat cloudy 



44 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

prospects. Money is so scarce that purchasers are 
unable to pay, in cash, two dollars a barrel for 
flour, though it is offered for that in market. But 
there are courageous and generous souls in Buffalo, 
notwithstanding. The Methodists have built a house of 
worship, the first on the Holland Purchase, in the brief 
space of forty-eight days. This house, thirty-five feet 
by twenty-five, stood on the west side of Pearl street, 
a little south of Niagara. At this time there were 
supposed to be two thousand Methodists on the Purchase. 
The Rev. Mr. Fillmore, the first pastor of the Metho- 
dist Church in Buffalo, is now a resident of Clarence, 
engaged in the work of the ministry. At the present 
time there are, in this. city, seven Methodist churches, 
under the care of five pastors, having an aggregate of 
about a thousand communicants, three thousand attend- 
ants upon worship, and fifteen hundred children in the 
Sabbath Schools. In March, 1819, in the midst of 
great pecuniary privations, the ladies of the First 
Church, made their pastor a Life Director of the West- 
ern Education Society, by a donation of fifty dollars. 
The trustees, willing to attempt any generous, or even 
impossible deed, appointed a committee, this year, to 
provide a house of worship for the congregation, and 
a parsonage for the minister, neither of which could be 
accomplished. Baffled in their endeavors, and unwilling 
to incur responsibilities which they were unable to 
meet, these faithful men laid the matter before the 
congregation, when, on the 5th of December, 1819, it 
was unanimously voted that the Rev. Mr. Squier have 
leave to missionate twelve Sabbaths of the ensuing 'year 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 45 

for his own benefit, upon his reducing his salary the 
sum of five hundred and fifty dollars. During this, 
the third year of Mr. Squier's ministry, twenty-two 
persons joined the church, one of whom was Henry 
HoisiNGTON, afterward the well-known missionar}^, a 
diligent minister, a thorough scholar, whose memory 
and his works remain, though, alas, he has departed. 
Mr. Hiram Pratt, another of the pillars of this congre- 
gation, whose house was ever open, and his hand ever 
ready to help the cause he loved ; who could contribute, 
or counsel, or toil, or do anything that needed to be 
done, to set forward the growing church, was received 
to fellowship in September, 1.820. 

This year, 1820, brought with it the trials, the suc- 
cesses and the doubts, which its immediate antecedents 
were so certain to produce. Thirteen persons were 
added to the church, but the subscriptions were inade- 
quate, and the trustees perplexed, so that at their 
meeting, December 21st, they could do no otherwise 
than vote that the committee be instructed henceforth, 
to offer the pastor only what money should be received 
from the subscriptions. In 1821, eleven joined the 
church, one of whom, Mr. Joseph Dart, is still a 
member. lii the summer of this year, 1821, Mr. Dart 
and Miss Eunice Hosmer, who was then the teacher of 
a day school in the village, and who afterwards be- 
came a missionary to the Indians, in the North West, 
commenced a mission Sabbath School, the first of its 
kind in our history. It was held every Sabbath after- 
noon in a log school house, at what is now the junc- 
tion of Genesee and High streets, near the tollgate. 



46 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

But as Genesee street had not then been opened, they 
could reach the school house only by a bridle path 
which ran along the ridge where Allen street is now. 
They gathered together from twelve to twenty untaught 
children, kept the school alive for three years, were 
permitted to witness some saving results, when the 
roads being opened, the school was transferred to the 
church. At the end of the year 1821, the clerk 
reported that four members had died, ten had been 
dismissed, and one suspended: twenty-six babes had 
been baptised, and there were one hundred and nine- 
teen communicants then in the church. 

In 1822, twenty-nine united with the church, among 
whom were Abner Bryant, received on profession of 
his faith, Moses Bristol, by certificate from the Pres- 
byterian Church in Manlius, and Lemuel Johnson, an 
elder of the church in Auburn. Mr. Johnson, was 
soon invited to act as one of the elders of the church, 
whose session then consisted of Messrs. Goodell, 
Stocking, Callender, Hyde and Johnson. Four of the 
members died, twenty-three were dismissed, twenty- 
eight had been baptised, one suspended, and the whole 
number of communicants was one hundred and twenty. 

Up to this time the people had no fixed place of 
worship. Wherever they could find a convenient and 
available room, whether at Callender's, or at Ran- 
som's, or the school house, or in the court room, they 
convened. For a time, they had worshiped in Ran- 
som's barn, then in the hall of his tavern, then in the 
Court House, till the Supervisors becoming uneasy, 
they removed to a rickety school house, which stood 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 47 



north of the present church, on the other side of Ni- 
agara street. The pastor became cliscourag-cd now, 
and was making up his mind to leave, when the judi- 
cious and gentle Mrs. Squier, finding a fit text, re- 
quested her husband to preach, the next Sabbath, from 
Hag. i: 8. He consented, and when the Lord's day 
arrived, the people heard a very timely exhortation, 
no doubt, from the words of the prophet: "Go up 
to the mountain, and bring wood, and build tlie 
house, and I will take pleasure in it. and be glorified, 
saith'the Lord." 

The next Sabbath Mr. Squier exchanged, or had 
assistance ; and the preacher, not knowing what had 
taken place the week before, opened to the first chap- 
ter of Haggai, and read again, with simplicity and 
much emphasis, the admonition to go up to the moun- 
tain, and bring wood, and build a house for the Lord. 
When Monday morning arrived, it saw a subscription 
paper flying from house to house, and hand to hand, 
and soon the trustees had assurances which said agaiu. 
Get the wood, and build the house. 

They came together to deliberate. EllicotT' liad 
given them a lot, but no money. Nor did they need 
any. This church has never been obliged, from the 
day it was formed, to ask aid from abroad. On the 
24th of December, 1822, the committee were author- 
ized to contract with John Stacy, for a house of wor- 
ship, forty by fifty feet, to be erected on the north cor- 
ner of their lot, at a cost of $874, deducting the price 
of a pew which Mr. Stacy desired to build for his own 
use. In May, the edifice was finished, and the pews 



48 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

sold for one hundred dollars more than the building 
had cost. The house fronted eastward, was entered 
by two doors, between which stood the pulpit, and 
over against it, on the west end of the audience room, 
a platform for the singers. The pews were square, 
and the house was lighted at evening by candles, sup- 
plied by the worshipers. The choir was led by Mr. 
Hamlin, and consisted of Mr. Coit, Mr. Dart, Mr. 
Wilcox, Mr. Pratt, Mr. Seymour, Mr. Ketchum, Gen- 
eral Stores, Mr. Allen, Mr. Heacock, Mrs. Kibbe, 
Mrs. Seymour, Mrs. Heacock, Mrs. Marshall, Mrs. Hol- 
LisTER, Charlotte and Lydia Callender, Mary Cot- 
ton, Miss Pratt, and others whose names I cannot 
certainly command. 

This first house of worship served the congregation 
till 1828, when it was sold to the Methodists, and 
moved to Niagara street. Afterwards it was sold to 
the Germans, and taken to Genesee street, whence it 
was at length removed to Walnut street, where it is 
now used as a tenement house. 

There were, in 1823, three houses of worship in the 
village — that of the Methodists, on Pearl street; that 
of the Episcopalians, on their lot, south of ours; and 
that erected by this society. j^ 

During the year 1823, it had become evident that 
no effort, not even the resolute and well nigh resistless 
appeals of Reuben Heacock, who went around with 
the subscription paper, and to whose solicitations, on 
any subject, few were accustomed to say No, could 
redeem the pledge of a thousand dollars, and pay 
arrears, and interest, and salary, and expenses. In 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 49 



November, therefore, Mr. Squier concluded to lay down 
his charge, and the trustees made a .final endeavor to 
cancel their dues to him. He relinquished his post 
January 1st, 1824, having filled the pastoral ofiice 
seven and a half years. During that time he had ad- 
mitted to the church one hundred and fifty-eight mem- 
bers, and witnessed the beginnings of a new order of 
existence, of intelligence, of virtue, of thrift, of promise. 
He and the people were especially fortunate, in having 
the aid and the counsel of those noble men, whom 
Buffalo will not soon forget, the elders of the church, 
and the trustees of the society. The urbane and 
courtly Holt, who presided at the board, where sat 
the systematic Potter, the judicious Sill, Stocking 
the faithful, and Callender the strong, with the fervid 
and powerful Heacock, and Walden, the meditative, 
and taciturn, and wise, — who but such as these could 
have carried an infant and helpless church through 
seven years of severest trial, collecting from voluntary 
contributions, and paying out, in all, an aggregate of 
more than ten thousand dollars? 

And whenever Mr. Squier met his session, he looked 
on men, the like of whom it is not easy to find in any 
of the churches. Bryant — do I need to describe 
him? — a man to whom sacrifices and good works were 
welcome as was existence; who could watch sixteen 
successive nights with a sick neighbor, and neither 
tire nor complain ; and Stocking, who carried the 
heart of the church^ inside his own lieart, and could 
never distinguish which was his, and which the 
church's ; and Hyde, the zealous Christian, and the 



50 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 



skillful teacher; with Callender, who could counsel, 
or sing, or attend a funeral, or do any other good 
thing that was needed; and Goodell, and Johnson, 
and Bristol, who bears fruit still — well may Mr. 
Squier, in his seventy-first year, write, as he does, re- 
membering his early associates, that never had a pastor 
a more reliable body of advisers; and that, for eight 
years, there was never a divided vote in that session. 
But where are the men and women who associated 
and worshiped in those early assemblies? A hundred 
and ninety-seven persons, more than sixty males, more 
than one hundred and thirty of the other sex, had en- 
tered into covenant with the church in the twelve 
years since it was founded. What has become of 
them? How many remain? Looking at the cata- 
logue, of the twenty-nine who formed the church at its 
origin, but one is living. Of those who joined in 
1816, all are gone. So of the twenty-seven who joined 
in 1817. Though several of them survive, no^t one is 
now connected with this church. So of the thirty-four 
who joined in 1818. Mrs. E. D. Efner alone, of those 
who joined in 1819, retains her place. Miss Mary 
Cotton and Miss Ann Field are the sole remaining 
members of 1820. Mr. Joseph Dart, of 1821; Mrs. 
SiLA.s Fobes and Dr. Bristol, of '22 ; none of '23. 
That is to say, of the one hundred and fifty-eight 
whom Mr. Squier received to the church during his 
pastorate, six, and only six, are members still. The rest, 
like sheaves of the harvest, have been removed from 
the hands of the reaper, — some of them to the garner 
on high, some to the waiting seed fields of the West- 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSEl. 51 

Leaving BuiFalo, Mr. Squier became connected, in 
one capacity and another, with the home missionary 
cause, and that of Christian education, till, a few years 
ago, he was elected to a professorship in Beloit College, 
a post which he fills with honor and efficiency to the 
present time, though he has passed his seventieth year. 

Mr. Thaddeus Joy, who had been in Buffalo two 
years, made haste to inform the people of the virtues 
and abilities of the Rev. Gilbert Crawford, whom he 
had heard and known during his residence in the 
town of Le Roy. Mr. Crawford was born in Scot- 
land, in 1792, was educated in Edinburgh, and had 
been a student of theology at Princeton, in this coun- 
try. A genuine Scotchman, devout, able, and bearing 
in his nature the peculiarities and the strength of his 
inflexible race ; impetuous, and perhaps a little impa- 
tient at times, he was, nevertheless, a serious, exem- 
plary and powerful man, a saint honored of the church, 
a minister approved of God. He soon accepted the call 
of the people, and in May, 1824, at the age of thirty- 
two, was installed, on a salary wisely adjusted to the 
abilities of the people, and reflecting, no doubt, many of 
the remembrances of former times — a salary, that is, of 
six hundred dollars. During his stay of a little more 
than five years, there were added to the church one 
hundred and twenty-three new members, among whom 
are the names of Marshall, and Potter, and Corr, 
and Allen, and Babcock, and Russell, and Hamlin, 
and Pratt, and Grosvenor, and Joy, and Taintor. 

In 1824, Mr. Squier had left one hundred and 
twenty resident members still in the church. At the 



52 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

departure of Mr. Crawford, the list had swollen to 
two hundred and three. The annual accessions, under 
the first pastor, averaged twenty, the losses seven. 
Under the second pastor, the yearly increase was thirty, 
while the annual removals had amounted to ten. Du- 
ring Mr. Crawford's pastorate, Russell, and Clary, 
and CuRTiss, and Scott, and Miller, and Marshall, 
and TowNSEND, and Pratt, and Ketchum, took their 
places in the board of trustees, while Bryant and 
Bristol were added to the bench of the elders. In 
July, 1825, the church was made sad by the intelli- 
gence that Deacon and Mrs. Goodell had determined 
to remove to New England. Letters were made out, 
and pastor, and session, and people were getting ready 
to say their adieus, w<hen, in December, the Lord 
having some better thing in store for him, he returned 
his letters, and took his seat again in the sessions of 
the elders. Though in his fiftieth year, he had as yet 
acquired only a small estate. How his property in- 
creased the next twenty-five years, and what he did 
with it, many of you are not too young to remember. 
With a mind not over fertile, and habits of extreme 
personal economy, he was, nevertheless, wont to speak 
of himself as the Lord's steward, having in charge an 
estate which was not his own. His will, made several 
years before his death, which occurred in 1851, was 
an exposition of what he intended by the phrase stew- 
ardship for God. In that instrument he gave, — 

To the Female Academy in this city, $10,500. 

To the Orphan Asylum, $1,000. 

To the Society for the Rehef of the Poor, $1,000. 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 53 

To city missions, $500. 

Ill all, to his own city, $13,000. 

In addition to these legacies, he bequeathed, — 
To the American Bible Society, $67,500. 
To the American Home Missionary Society, $67,500. 
To the American Board of Missions, $67,500. 
To the American Tract Society, $36,000. 
To the American Education Society, $33,250. 
To the American Sunday School Union, $33,136. 
For Christian Union, $2,000. 

With a residue yet to be divided which may amount 
to $75,000. 

In December, 1826, the steadfast and worthy Na- 
thaniel Sill, who had been a pillar from the begin- 
ning, having removed to Warren county, in Pennsyl- 
vania, was dismissed, no more to take his place with 
Callender and Stocking, at the sessions of the elders, 
or with Potter and Holt, at the deliberations of the 
trustees. Stephen Franklin, also, another of the 
founders of the church, having gone to Pennsylvania, 
was dismissed, with his good wife Sarah. 

The opening of the canal, in 1825, and the certain 
prospect of enlargement and wealth to their growing 
city, required of the trustees that they should take 
early measures for erecting a larger and more attract- 
ive house of worship. Accordingly, on the 12th of 
June, 1826, Messrs. Potter, Curtiss and Stocking 
were appointed a committee to superintend the build- 
ing of the edifice in which wc now meet. Money was 



54 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

borrowed of the Hartford Bank, of the Bank of Ge- 
neva, of Hiram Pratt, of Timothy Cowles, of John 
Scott. Coburn commenced the mason work in June, 
and finished it in September. Potter kept the ac- 
counts in his own accurate, orderly and inimitable way, 
setting down three shillings for a memorandum book 
for Brayman, the joiner, and two shillings for tickets 
for something else. Stocking, and Curtiss, and Pot- 
ter inspected the work continually, till, on the 3d 
day of March, 1827, the trustees reported to the con- 
gregation that the house would be ready for use in 
three weeks, and recommended that it should be dedi- 
cated to the worship of God on the 28th instant, 
which was done, Mr, Eddy, of Canandaigua, preaching 
the sermon. 

A few months afterward, Mr. Crawford, having con- 
cluded to lay down his charge, began to look for a 
new parish. The people, on their part, began also to 
look for a new pastor. They requested the Rev. Dr. 
Brown, of Cazenovia, to visit and preach to them, 
which he was at first inclined to do, but did not. 
They then employed a Rev. Mr. Miller, who re- 
mained six weeks, and gave great satisfaction. In Au- 
gust, Mr. Crawford was dismissed, removing to Le 
Roy, where he preached as stated supply for more 
than two years. In 1834, he supplied the first church 
in Lockport, and afterward the church in Albion, 
where he was installed, February 5th, 1835, but on ac- 
count of ill health, was dismissed December 1st of the 
same year. Then he removed to Milwaukee, return- 
ing to Le Roy in 1843, where he remained until his 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 55 

death, which was on the 29th of June, 1848, he bein*'- 
in the fifty-seventh year of his age. During all these 
latter years of his ministry, Mr. Crawford was most 
diligent and untiring in his labors for the good of the 
church. While at Le Roy, it was his custom to 
preach somewhere almost every evening in the week. 
The people throughout Genesee and the adjoining coun- 
ties crowded to their school houses and churches to 
hear him, and it is estimated that more than a thousand 
souls were brought to the Saviour in connection with 
these itinerant labors. 

In December, 1828, the attention of the still desti- 
tute church was drawn to the Rev. Sylvester Eaton, 
who was supplying the pulpit of his classmate and 
friend, the Rev. Dr. Sprague, of Albany. Mr. Henry 
R. Seymour had information concerning his worth. 
Mr. Hiram Pratt had heard him preach in Albany. 
Dr. James, his classmate, commended him highly. 
The people had good reason for inviting him to spend 
the remaining months of winter with them. Mr. Eaton 
came in December, and in the succeeding February 
received a unanimous call to take charge of the church, 
on a salary of eight hundred dollars. 

As a preacher, he had very few, if any, superiors 
among those with whom he was associated in the min- 
istry. His sermons were able, polished, instructive, 
practical, always soundly doctrinal, calculated to im- 
press and edify the people. Being delivered with 
great earnestness and solemnity, they were received 
with interest and profit by his hearers. In social re- 
lations, and among his brethren in the ministry, he 



56 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

was universally beloved for those generous and manly 
traits which gave a charm to his character. He ex- 
celled especially in prayer, whether in the pulpit, at 
the sick bed, or at funerals. In labors for the edifi- 
cation of Christians and the conversion of the impeni- 
tent in seasons of revival, he was equally eminent and 
expert. His earnestness, his sincerity, his sympathy, 
the pungency of his appeals, the melody of his voice, 
his look, his action, everything combined to give effect 
to his ministry in periods and occasions like these. 
Hence he was, to the end of his life, in great demand 
among his brethren in times of revival. Being in his 
thirty-seventh year when he came to Buffalo, he was 
in the very prime of his robust manhood. He had 
had a thorough education, first at Williams College, 
and then in the divinity school at Princeton. His fel- 
low students had been men of the first mould — James, 
and Sprague, and Jonas King. He had had charge 
of the church in Norwalk, Connecticut, seven years — 
was very affectionate in temper, and very attractive 
in manner; was, in short, exactly suited to make, what 
he did in fact make, an honored, loved and useful 
pastor to the thriving, united and appreciative church. 
He was publicly installed the 9th of April, 1829. Dr. 
James, of Albany, preached, on every man's work being 
tried as by fire. His pastorate opened with the most 
favorable auspices. Willing to work for his Master, 
and finding much work to be done, he undertook 
more than most men have health or ability to achieve- 
He preached twice on the Sabbath, taught a Bible 
class in the Sunday school at noon, lectured in the 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 67 

evening, lectured again on Thursday evening, besides 
visits and occasional meetings in the outskirts of the 
town. Nor was his labor in vain in the Lord. Duriner 
the five and a half years of his ministry, he received 
to the church three hundred and seventeen members, 
twenty-six more than had been admitted during both 
the previous pastorates, which covered a period of 
nineteen years. In 1831, the second of Mr. Eaton's 
ministry, there were added one hundred and fifty-two 
persons, the largest accession in any single year since 
the church was founded. 

In 1830, Mr. Eaton and his people began to con- 
sider the religious wants of the sailors. The increasing 
trade on the canal and the lakes had multiplied the 
numbers of these, till some provision was necessary for 
their spiritual well being. A chapel was built, and a 
chaplain employed, and much good done. In 1834, 
Rev. Stephen Peet, an agent of the American Seaman's 
Friend Society, visited the city, and gave a new im- 
pulse to the work. A pubMc meeting was held, a 
Bethel society formed, a subscription of nearly six 
thousand dollars taken, and measures set on foot for 
the erection of a new house of worship. Mr. Bryant 
Burwell and Dr. John Clark gave the society a lot. 
Rev. Mr. Peet took up his residence here, the chapel 
was built, at a cost of eight thousand and eight hun- 
dred dollars, and the sailors and boatmen of Buffalo 
heard, every Sabbath, the good tidings of the gospel. 

In November, 1836, the financial crisis had come, 
and the Bethel cause participated in the universal de- 
cline. Rev. Mr. Nott, the chaplain, was sent to neigh- 



58 • THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

boring towns to obtain assistance, but to little purpose, 
and the enterprise would certainly have fallen into 
utter wreck, but for the promptitude, the energy and 
the self denial of some of the ladies of the congrega- 
tion, 'r'arly in March, 1837, a meeting was held at 
the house of Mr. Dart, and the Ladies' Bethel Friend 
Society was organized, the same society which, under 
another name, and having in charge another work, 
exists in this congregation to-day. 

This society having raised more than five hundred 
dollars the first year, assumed the support of the 
chaplain, and the oversight of the cause, till, in No- 
vember, 1841, they opened a Sailor's Home, which 
passed into private hands in 1845. With a zeal that 
never abated, an aptness that was never at fault, an 
energy that overcame all obstacles, and a perseverance 
that continued to the end, these noble women sustained 
the enterprise which they had taken in hand for eight 
successive years, having raised and expended in money 
alone more than three thousand dollars, to say nothing 
of labor, and visitation, and care of the sick, and the 
equipment, superintendence and repairs of the Home. 

In January, 1856, the chapel property being deeply 
in debt, was sold, the liabilities cancelled, the cor- 
poration dissolved, since which time the Bethel cause 
in this city has been under the care of the American 
Bethel Society. 

In the year 1832, the then very captivating, and, as 
it would seem, very contagious idea of free churches, 
had reached Buffalo, and begun to enlist the sympathies 
of some of the people. The experiment had been 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 59 



commenced in New York, in Boston — indeed, in many 
of the Eastern cities; they were just moving in the 
same direction in Rochester; it was a very specious, 
and very seductive project; what coukl be more de- 
sirable, what more Christian, than a church open to 
all, and especially to all the poor, where they could 
hear the gospel without humiliation, and without charge ? 
On the 14th of March, twenty-one of the members of 
the church requested letters of dismission, with a view 
to the organization of the Free Congregational Church 
in Buffalo. The letters were granted, Mr. Eaton was 
asked to ofl&ciate, the church was formed, and, on the 
10th of the ensuing July, was received under the care 
of the Presbytery. The October following. Rev. Job 
H. Martyn was installed as pastor, who continued in 
his place a little over two years, when Rev. George 
R. RuDD succeeded him as a stated supply. During 
Mr. Martyn's ministry, large accessions were made to 
the new and growing body, one hundred and fifty in 
a single year, so that whereas it commenced in '32 
with twenty-four members, it reported in '37 a cata- 
logue of two hundred and thirty-seven names. This 
was the first colony that went out from the mother 
church. It was re-organized in 1839, and received 
into the Presbytery, under the name of the Park 
Church. Rev. Luther H. Angier became its pastor, 
in 1840. In 1843, it reported two hundred and twenty- 
one communicants. In 1846, the present pastor, the 
Rev. Dr. Hbacock, was installed, since when it has 
greatly prospered, having at present a membership of 
a little more than three hundred. 



60 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

Being instinctively susceptible to every want of his 
flock, Mr. Eaton took an early and very deep interest 
in the cause of female education. There was need, 
and he and the people felt it, of a higher school for 
girls than any that the town afforded. A board of 
trustees was formed, of which Dr. John Clark was 
chairman, and Judge Townsend and General Potter 
members, and the Misses Denison, one of whom is 
now Mrs. Joseph Dart, were persuaded to come from 
their home, on the banks of the Connecticut, and take 
charge of the new seminary. The school was filled 
at once, its sessions being held, at first, in the base- 
ment of the church. The annual examinations gave 
great satisfaction to the friends of the seminary, and 
many a parental heart throbbed with delight to hear a 
daughter read compositions which the critics of the 
press pronounced to be faultless in style, and full of 
thought. The marriage of one of the principals sus- 
pended at length an enterprise which, though it 
paused awhile, could not die, and the Buffalo Female 
Academy is the magnificent consummation of that 
which was commenced at the instance of the good 
Mr. Eaton. 

In 1832, Dr. John E. Marshall was elected an 
elder, and took his place in the councils and the cares 
of the session. 

In March, 1834, the people increased the salary of 
the pastor two hundred dollars, but having received a 
call from the church in Patterson, New Jersey, Mr. 
Eaton thought it expedient to remove, which he did, 
preaching his farewell sermon on the 14th of the fol- 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 61 

lowing September : departing, as the session said, in 
their record of the event, with the good wishes and 
prayers of his friends, that his life and health might be 
preserved, and that he might long be a faithful and 
successful servant of the Lord. 

Looking back over his ministry a moment, we ob- 
serve, that among the three hundred and more whom 
he received to the church, are the well known names 
of Samuel Wilkeson, and John C. Lord, and Willl\m 
RuxTON, and Reuben Heacock, and George Palmer, 
and Thomas Farnham, and James Demarest, and 
Deacon Crocker. It was during Mr. Eaton's min- 
istry, too, that that welcome sound, the Sabbath bell, 
went /orth for the first time from the tower of the 
church. 

Mr. Eaton remained in Patterson three years, re- 
moved then to Poughkeepsie, where he had charge 
of a church four years, when, his health failing, he 
went first to Patterson, and afterward to Troy, where, 
in the house of his brother, on the 14th of May, 18-14, 
being full of the fruits of an earnest and godly life, 
he fell asleep in the fifty-third year of his age, and the 
twenty-sixth of his ministry, leaving behind him a 
memory the savor of which remains undiminished and 
precious to the present time. 

The session of this church, hearing of the death of 
Mr. Eaton, adopted a minute, in which they expressed 
their great sorrow that his labors had been cut short 
at a period when there was good hope that his varied 
ministerial qualifications, enriched by Christian expe- 
rience, would render him for a long time useful to 



62 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

the cause of Christ ; and declared that they cherished, 
with deepest emotion, the memory of that relation 
which he had formerly sustained to this people, calling 
to mind with gratitude to the Master above, the kindly 
admonitions, the earnest appeals, and the fervent 
prayers which burst from a heart overflowing with ten- 
derness towards his beloved flock. 

Mrs. Eaton and her daughter returned to Buffalo, 
where great numbers of most affectionate friends were 
glad to welcome them, and where they still reside, 
loved and cherished as part of the flock to which he 
once ministered, and a precious bond of union between 
the living and the dead. 

In 1834, Buffalo, no longer a village, had begun 
to give unequivocal indications of coming prosperity. 
Its population, already swollen to twelve thousand, was 
increasing fully one thousand a year, intelligence, and 
wealth, and business were advancing in an equal pace, 
and sagacious men were already adjusting their plans, 
as they had been obliged to arrange their hopes, with 
a view to the new order of things which was then so 
certain to arrive. The cono^reo-ation of the First 
Church were not unmindful of these rising omens, as 
they searched the country for another pastor. In De- 
cember, they elected, with an earnest and unanimous 
vote, the Rev. Dr. Hawes, of Hartford, Connecticut. 
But Hartford could not surrender so needful and so 
good a man, and the Doctor declining the call, made 
atonement for the deed by informing the committee 
that the Rev. Asa T. Hopkins, then in New York, 
was, in regard of age, aptitude, and ability, exactly 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 63 



the man whom they needed. The committee visited 
Mr. Hopkins, and in the ensuing October he came to 
Buffiilo, and commenced his ministry. The month fol- 
lowing he was unanimously chosen to the pastorate, on 
a salary of two thousand dollars. He accepted the 
call, and was installed by the Presbytery on the 17th 
of February, 1836. 

Mr. Hopkins was, at that time, thirty years of age, 
having been born in the city of Hartford the 25th of 
July, 1805; He had been graduated at Yale College 
in the class of 1826 — had studied divinity with Dr. 
WiSNER, of Ithaca, whose niece he married in '28 — 
had preached with great acceptance in the best con- 
gregations of New York, and Boston, and Hartford — 
had been called to succeed the eminent Dr. Chester, 
of Albany, in the church of which Dr. Sprague is now 
the pastor — had been settled twice, first at Pawtucket, 
in Massachusetts, and afterward in Utica, in this State, 
— and had already reached the first rank of power 
and promise among the men of his own age, in the 
ministry. A scion of an old and honored family, the 
son of devout and worthy parents, accustomed from 
infancy to the refinements of cultured and graceful 
life, full of all noblest impulses, genial, affectionate, 
and frank, a gentleman by nature, and having no 
power, if he had had the will, to be otherwise, it is 
not strange that the people heard with delight his 
decision to spend and be spent in the care of their 
souls. Dr. Hopkins impressed himself too deeply upon 
the heart of this community, and is altogether too well 
remembered now, to need an elaborate description or 



64 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. • 

a merited eulogy from me. His dignified manners, 
his courteous temper, his high enthusiasm, the beauty 
and the boldness of some of his addresses to men, the 
meekness, .the fervor, the importunity of his appeals to 
God — his eloquence, his aptness, his susceptibility; 
the force and freedom with which he entered into all 
great popular questions and causes — the broad and 
generous sympathy by which he identified himself with 
his people, with the young men, with the city in 
which he was spending his powers — these, and other 
like qualities, are too indelibly wrought into the mem- 
ory of thousands, to require more than the barest men- 
tion in a discourse like this. 

During a ministry of twelve years, Dr. Hopkins had 
much to assist and comfort him, on the one hand, 
while on the other he was called to encounter a series 
of trials which more than any others, perhaps, are 
wont to determine the stuff of which a pastor is made; 
the strength of his faith, the power of his patience, 
the depth and vigor of his love. First came the ter- 
rible revulsion in business, which made the years '36 
and '37 years of overthrow, and confusion, and loss. 
The new disclosures in regard to character, the sudden 
destruction of fortune and hope on the part of hun- 
dreds, the universal collapse, the wide spread discour- 
agement, the utter engrossment of the people in their 
present necessities, the decline of customary revenues, 
the failure of confident subscriptions — how much must 
a sensitive and sympathizing pastor have endured, in 
passing through such an ordeal as was here in 1837. 
Perhaps no more impressive instance of the utter pros- 



I 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 65 



tration that came upon men of fortune in the reverse 
of '37, can be given, than in the well remembered 
failure of nearly all the great subscriptions to the 
University of Western New York. These subscriptions, 
amounting to two hundred thousand dollars, one hun- 
di^ed and forty thousand of which was from men con- 
nected with this church, had been procured from re- 
sponsible persons, in the year 1835. The University 
was chartered in the spring of '36, but the founders 
were utterly unable to fulfill their engagements, and 
the project ended in a bitter remembrance and an 
abortive life. Such was Buffalo in 1836. 

It is part of the history of this church, honorable alike 
to the pastor and the people, that with all his neces- 
sities and all their disasters, neither did they offer, nor 
he withhold, a single proposition, hint or overture that 
was not, in the highest sense, manly and Christian. 
Moved by the noblest impulses, and while in need of 
every cent of his salary, he addressed a letter to the 
trustees offering to remit to them one-fourth of his 
annual revenue. Moved by the same noble impulses, 
the trustees answered, that whatever their distresses, 
the full salary should be paid. All the negotiations 
of that most trying period attest that the people had 
a pastor who was worthy of them, and that the pastor 
had a people among whom it was cjisy to be self- 
denying, and safe to be noble. 

Perhaps a severer trial, however, came in another 
form. The city had enlarged, and there was demand, 
as there was disposition, to increase the number of 
churches. Accordingly, in July, 1838, the pastor was 



66 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

called to sign letters of recommendation, dismissing a 
number of his flock to the Dutch Reformed Church, 
about to be established here. Less than a year from 
that time, twenty more asked leave to withdraw, that 
they might unite in building up the Park Church. In 
March of '47, nearly fifty of the flock took letters to 
the North Church, just then to be founded. Others 
had removed to the Pearl Street Church, which com- 
menced its existence in '35, was received into the 
Presbytery in '36, had one hundred and seventy mem- 
bers in '37, and in '46 a few more than four hundred. 
Now, whether it be due to the weakness of human 
nature, or the strength of a pastor's love, or some 
other cause more or less commendable, experience has 
demonstrated, that one of the severest of a minister's 
trials is found in the necessity of releasing honored 
and useful parishioners to other and neighboring 
churches. A pastor may discern the obvious propri- 
ety, nay, he may discover the absolute necessity of 
the new project. His judgment may approve, his 
conscience concur, but he is a man to be honored, 
nay, he is a man to be applauded, who, in such cir- 
cumstances, yields a prompt assent, and sees his own 
flock diminished, that others may be enlarged. Many 
an eminent preacher, in many a city in this and other 
lands, has found it difficult to be unselfish in such 
conditions. But while any memory of Asa T. Hop- 
kins shall remain in any of these churches, it will be 
kept in mind, as part of the native nobleness of the 
man, nay, part of the grace that enlivened and molded 
his nature, that instead of being reluctant, and unwil- 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 67 



ling, and slow, he entered heartily into every movement 
to spread his Master's kingdom, and even led the way in 
planting and peopling the new churches around him. 

Superior as he was to such trials, he had even 
another, which quite too often abates the courage and 
exhausts the energy of a zealous and faithful pastor. 
I refer to his ever returning ill health, and to the ne- 
cessity of frequent absence or relaxation, to recover 
his enfeebled powers. But who does not remember, 
and that with a kind of surprise, as if it were still a 
mystery, how with all the disadvantages of an unsound 
body, and an oppressed and anxious brain, he was 
still at his post, and still at work, his mind throwing 
forth its rich and brilliant contents, with, if I may use 
his own splendid figure, volcanic masis and energy. 

Commencing his ministry in a city which was full of 
young men who were here rather as sojourners than 
residents. Dr. Hopkins entered at once into all their 
sympathies, and prepared and preached a series of 
well adapted lectures, addressed especially to that class 
of his hearers. In one of these he earnestly recom- 
mended the organization of a Young Men's Association. 
His hearers approved the suggestion — called a meet- 
ing — and the Young Men's Association — that noble 
institution which has done so much for the intellectual 
improvement of our city — was then organized. He 
preached also a series of sermons, demanded by the 
circumstances of the times, upon the trinity of the 
Godhead, and the divinity of Him on whoin all saints 
of all nations and ages do continually depend ; and 
who is worshiped as divine in the two sanctuaries 



68 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

where God alone receives the homage of man — m the 
church above, and the church on earth. 

During the ministry of Dr. Hopkins, there were re- 
ceived to the fellowship of the church five hundred 
and fifty-four persons, of whom one hundred and thirty- 
seven were added in a single year. Meantime the 
population of the city had advanced from thirteen to 
thirty-five thousand, and all the interests, and all the 
resources of the congregation, had improved to an 
equal extent. The Sabbath School, under the efficient 
care, first of Rev. Elias R. Beadle, and afterward of 
Rev. P. G. Cook, had increased from an average of 
one hundred and thirty pupils to nearly three hundred. 
Mr. Cook, who took charge of the school in '36, re- 
ported in '46, that, of the one hundred and thirty-seven 
who joined the church in '43, between fifty and sixty 
had come from the Sabbath School, being at the time, 
or having been recently, members of some of the 
classes. He added that at least a hundred of the 
scholars had joined the church since '36. A single 
teacher, it was believed, had been instrumental in the 
conversion of nearly twenty of her pupils. In the ten 
years between '36 and '46, there had been two thou- 
sand five hundred different children in the school. 

The cause of Christian benevolence, fostered .as it 
was by the fervid affection and powerful advocacy of 
the pastor, kept pace with the growing demands of 
the age, and the increased abilities of the people. In 
1838, the aggregate of collections and gifts was $3000; 
in '39, a little less; in '44, it was $4264.94; in '47, 
$3081.74. The number of communicants in the church 



; 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 01) 

when Dr. Hopkins assumed the care of it, was three 
hundred and sixty-one. When his ministry ceased, it 
was three hundred and seventy-two. Thus, in less 
than twelve years, five hundred and fifty-four had en- 
tered, and five hundred and forty- three left the churcli. 
This was an average of about forty-six as the annual 
gain, and nearly the same number as the yearly loss 
of communicants. Looking over the records of ad- 
mission during Dr. Hopkins' pastorate, the eye falls on 
many familiar names, among whom are those of Cyrus 
De Forest, Jonathan Mayhew, Sidney Shepard, Phi- 
Los Cook, Noah Gardner, Thomas Blossom, Isaac 
White, Merwin Hawley, George Walbridge, Nathan- 
iel WiLGUs, Charles and George Coit, Gaius Rich, 
William F. Miller, Morris Butler, Philander Ben- 
net, Orsamus H. Marshall, Andrew Rich, Jacob Sie- 
BOLD, Theodotus Burwell, Albert Merrill, James 
Sawyer, Loring Danforth, Nelson Randall, Horace 
Stillman, Stephen Austin, Chauncey Cowles, Jesse 
Ketchum, Albert Bigelow, Bryant Burwell, Peter 
Curtiss, and William Delos Love. Silas Kingsley 
and Aaron Rumsey joined the church in December, 
1834. Deacon Crocker had just been made an elder, 
when Dr. Hopkins came. In November, 1841, the 
church elected Messrs. De Forest, Farnham, Shepard 
and Burwell to the ofiice of elders, and Benjamin 
Hodge, and Jonathan Mayhew, and Elias Lewis, and 
Henry Bissel, deacons. In April, '46, Mr. Kingsley 
and Mr. Gardner were added to the bench of elders, 
and Messrs. Sawyer, Merrill and Taylor to the num- 
ber of deacons. 



70 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

In December, 1838, the session put upon their 
records that, having learned with deep regret the 
death of Dr. John E. Marshall, they were deeply 
afHicted by the loss of their revered and beloved asso- 
ciate. Two years after, in '41, Mr. Callender having 
removed to Black Rock, took a letter to the church 
in that place — ^ having served the congregation with 
zeal, and judgment, and great fidelity, for more than 
thirty years. 

In September, 1839, Dr. Hopkins, oppressed with 
long continued ill health, proposed to the congregation 
to relinquish his charge, whereupon, on motion of Mr. 
Hiram Pratt, he was granted leave of absence for six 
months. In the spring of '46, he was advised to go 
abroad, for his own sake and that of Mrs. Hopkins, to 
which he consented, and having visited Scotland and 
the continent, and attended the evangelical alliance in 
the city of London, he returned in November, bringing 
the lifeless body of his wife, who had died on the 
return voyage, and whose funeral was attended with 
universal grief and sympathy, in this house, on the 
27th of November, 1846. 

The bereaved pastor resumed his customary labors, 
and continued them with great earnestness and fidelity, 
until Sunday, the 7th of November, 1847, when he 
delivered his last sermons, and went home to die, and 
depart to his waiting reward. Three weeks after, on 
the morning of Saturday, the 27th day of the month, 
and just a year from the burial of his wife, he breathed 
his last, being in the forty-third year of his age, and 
the eighteenth of his ministry. With equal justice and 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 71 

feeling, the elders recorded, at their next session, their 
appreciation of their associate, and their sense oi" lii- 
loss. They said : We mourn the departure of a 
personal friend, of a moderator of uncommon ability, 
undoubted piety, and zeal for the cause of truth — 
whose manners were marked by a cordial freedom, 
mingled with firm adherence to principle, a frankness 
and directness in the expression of his opinions, tem- 
pered by the greatest personal kindness, and an ear- 
nestness in the great work of advancing the Redeemer's 
kingdom, which will ever bring to our minds delightful 
memories of our intercourse with him. They added, 
that in common with the church and congregation, 
they had been called to part with a preacher of rare 
and brilliant talents, who deeply felt the force of the 
truths he inculcated, and who was anxious mainly that 
the flock he fed should feel it too — while in his public 
addresses to the Throne of Grace in their behalf, he 
manifested a humility strongly in contrast with the 
boldness and power with which he exhibited divine 
truth to the understandings of the people of his charge. 

Dr. Hopkins' funeral was attended by a great con- 
course of people. The church was draped, the choir 
sang pieces prepared expressly for the occasion, and 
eight clergymen bore their brother to the grave. 

The city had now increased to more than thirty 
thousand inhabitants, and had laid out the magnificent 
ground plat on which Time is destined to erect its 
coming fortunes. Its paved streets, its princely dwel- 
lings, its shaded avenues, with its steamers and fleets 
on the lake, and its boats linked and laden, and 



72 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

stretching in a continuous chain to the far off Hudson, 
— these, and other unequivocal tokens, opened to the 
people a hopeful future. To keep pace with the rapid 
march of other things, the trustees determined to en- 
close and adorn the church grounds, and in due time 
to erect a new and costly house of worship. Measures 
were therefore set on foot looking to these results. 
In March, 1847, Messrs. Haddock, Spaulding, Kingsley 
and Potter were charged with the preparation of the 
ground and the planting of shade trees upon the so- 
ciety's lot, a task which they promptly performed ; 
and Potter reported, at the next annual meeting, that 
they had procured the setting of eighty trees, and 
expended, in ornament and repairs, six hundred dollars. 
In April, '48, the congregation unanimously invited 
Dr. George Shepherd, of Bangor Theological Seminary, 
to take charge of them in the gospel ministry. This 
celebrated clergyman — whom Maine was determined 
to keep, though churches, and cities, and institutions 
in other States were striving to draw him away — 
staid by the seminary, which needed his labors, and 
the congregation, disappointed in their hopes, began 
to look in other directions. Happily there was just 
then in the city of Philadelphia a man, so well qual- 
ified to command and retain and satisfy the suffrages 
of any people, that the committee could at once 
recommend, and the congregation unanimously elect 
the Rev. M. L. R. P. Thompson to take possession of 
the vacant pulpit. Dr. Thompson accepted the call, 
and was installed on the 1st day of November, 1848. 
With what zeal, and power, and acceptance he fulfilled 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 73 



a pastorate of nearly twelve years among you, it would 
be utterly superfluous here to recount. Ilis uuflaf^gino- 
industry, his intense energy, his devotion to his single 
and special work, his earnestness, his directness, the 
penetration, the point, the clearness of his ideas — 
these, with his remarkable power of personal attraction, 
are all too fresh in the memories of the present mo- 
ment to require any other or larger notice than tliis. 
Dr. Thompson's ministry continued, as I have said, 
nearly twelve years. In that time he admitted to the 
church three . hundred and eighty-four members, of 
which number seventy-five were received in 1849, and 
eighty-two in 1858. In 1852, Mr. Shumway moving 
the project, a committee of the congregation, consisting 
of Messrs. Austin, Farnham, Pratt, Burroughs, and 
Ganson, were appointed, to take into consideration the 
subject of building a new church. In January, 1854, 
the matter had been advanced so far, that on the 21st 
of that month, the trustees made record of the fact, 
that a subscription of one hundred thousand dollars 
was already filled, to the full satisfaction of the board. 
Plans were procured, and preparations made, and in 
the ensuing April, the committee having arranged all 
the preliminaries, advertised for overtures and bids 
from the builders. It was soon discovered, however, 
that no responsible architect would undertake to erect 
an edifice of the style and material set forth in the 
plan which the trustees had been induced to acce])t, 
for the sum, or anything near to the sum, whicli liad 
been inconsiderately named in reports and estimates. 
The church which they were advised to build on the 



74 THE FIRST CHUBCH IN BUFFALO. 

ground was said to be very cheap. The church which 
was showed them on paper proved to be very dear. 
Disappointed in their estimates, disappointed even more 
by the reverses that had come to business, the trustees 
restored to the subscribers their notes, and abandoned 
the favorite project of building. Another effort, of 
the same character, and with the same result, followed, 
when the congregation, made wise by disasters, and 
contented by wisdom, judiciously resolved to remain 
in an edifice which was spacious and substantial, and 
adequate to all their real wa;its. 

Dr. Thompson early interested himself in the cause 
of education, with what success, our noble Female 
Academy stands a monument and a witness to-day. 
During his ministry, Mr. Rumsey and Mr. Danforth 
were added to the bench of elders, and Messrs. White 
and Barnes to the deacons, they having been severally 
elected on the 29th of December, 1853. 

In September, 1854, Jesse Ketchum and ten others 
were dismissed, to unite with others in forming the 
Westminster Church. The aggregate of collections for 
benevolent objects, during the eleven and a half years 
of Dr. Thompson's pastorate, was over thirty thousand 
dollars — being an average of about three thousand 
dollars a year. The health of Mrs. Thompson requiring 
a change of residence, he was dismissed in April, 1860, 
when the session adopted the following minute: — 

The circumstances under which we are now con- 
vened, forcibly remind us of the loss we have sus- 
tained, in the removal of our late presiding ofl&cer. 
We had already, in common with the congregation of 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 75 



which we are members, painfully realized the loss of 
his accustomed ministrations in the desk. But this 
occasion, our present condition, the vacant chair which 
he had for more than eleven years filled with such 
impartiality, dignity, and Christian courtesy, bring 
home to our hearts and sympathies, more fully than 
we can express, the value of what we have possessed, 
and the loss we have sustained. We shall ever cherish 
with pleasure the memory of his official intercourse 
with us, as a session, as well with us severally, as 
individuals. Though no longer officially connected 
with us, the bonds of our common friendship are not 
severed; he has still a home and remembrance in our 
hearts ; he carries with him to his new field of labor, 
our earnest sympathy ; and our ardent desire and 
prayer is, that the Great Head of the Church may 
make him, to those to whom he may hereafter min- 
ister, what he has been to hs — a ])lessing and a bond 
of union. 

In the same spirit, the trustees adopted the following 
resolutions : — 

Resolved, That we deeply regret the afflictive dis- 
pensation of Providence that has occasioned the request 
of our beloved pastor for the severance of a relation 
which has happily existed between him and us for 
more than eleven years past, and we sincerely sym})a- 
thize with him and his family in that affliction. 

Resolved, That his eminent ability and fidelity as a 
preacher and pastor, during the period of his charge, 
has commanded our highest respect; and the kindness 
and sympathy manifested by him, in cases of sickness 



76 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

and bereavement in the congregation, have secured 
our affectionate regard. 

Resolved^ That the circumstances which have occa- 
sioned his resignation of the pastoral office over this 
congregation, forbid our non-concurrence in the appli- 
cation to the Presbytery: yet we concur with regret, 
and earnestly desire that the object of such resignation 
may be obtained, in the improved health of his family. 

Resolved^ That in whatever field he may hereafter 
labor in the ministry, he will carry with him our 
sympathy and prayers for his official success, and the 
personal happiness of himself and family. 

After a vacancy of seven months, that is in No- 
vember 1860, the congregation called the Rev. Dwight 
Bartlett to take charge of them in the Lord. Mr. 
Bartlett declined, and the present pastor was installed 
on the 4th of April, 1861. 

Reviewing these fifty years, with a view to some 
general results, it appears that there have been added 
to the church in all, of males, five hundred and forty- 
eight, of females, eleven hundred and four — making 
an annual average of thirty-three ; and a total of ad- 
missions in half a century, one thousand six hundred 
and fifty-two. Of these, seven hundred and sixty-two 
joined on profession of their fiiith, and eight hundred 
and ninety by certificate. There have left the church 
in that time, to join other churches on earth, or to go 
home to the Church on high, eleven hundred and 
eighty-five — being an average of twenty-four per year. 
If we adopt the same ratio, and make the annual av- 
erage of the congregation four hundred, twenty thou- 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 77 



sand persons have been, at one time and another, 
connected with the ordinances and the worship of this 
church. In other words, this churc-li, Avliicli fifty years 
ago, began to show men the way to heaven, has gone 
before an army of twenty thousand souls, lighting their 
path, and saying. Come with us, and we will do thee 
good. 

The cost to the society for salaries, repairs, expenses 
of building, interest, etc.. has amounted, in fifty years, 
to something like one hundred and fifty thousand 
dollars. 

The contributions to benevolent objects have ex- 
ceeded one hundi'ed thousand dollars. 

The congregation has been greatly assisted in its 
devotions by the untiring efforts of those who have 
successively conducted the music — Mr. Callendek, Mr. 
Hamlin, Mr. Ketchum, Mr. Taunt, Mr. Bigelow, and 
our present leader, Mr. Vining, who, for the last twelve 
years, has held and honored his resi)()nsible position. 
Xor will it be soon forgotten how General Storks 
plaj^ed upon the viol for twenty-five years, Mr. Young 
attendino- him; nor how Mr. Bigelow, Mr. Sears and 
Mr. Butler discoursed on their melodious and beau- 
tiful flutes. 

The sextons, too — Mr. Pierce, Mr. Hotchkiss, and 
Mr. Newland — have added much to the comfort of 
the people, and much to the prosperity of the church. 

I should omit a very important item in the histor>' 
of this church, if I failed to mention the names of a 
somewhat numerous list of young men, who, with oi- 
without assistance, have gone from membership in tins 



78 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

congregation into the Christian ministry. In 1818, the 
Presbytery of Buffalo undertook to aid indigent young 
men belonging to its feeble churches, in pursuing an 
education with a view to the ministry. The extent of 
the assistance it could offer will be appreciated on dis- 
covering that, in September, 1821, eight churches con- 
nected with the Presbytery contributed in all $32.20, 
of which sum the church in Buffalo furnished $24.00. 
In 1823, James Remington, of this church, commenced 
his studies under the care of the Presbytery. Six 
months after, his brother David, also a member of this 
church, entered upon his studies. The same year Jabez 
Hyde was licensed to preach -the gospel. Besides these, 
Joseph Donald, Henry Hoisington, John C. Lord, 
Joseph M. Gambell, Philos G. Cook, Albert Bigelow, 
John Coit, Joshua Cook, Grosvenor Heacock, Her- 
RiCK Johnson, and Charles L. Hequemburg have en- 
tered the ministry. Mr. Hyde had charge of a church 
in Chautauque county. Mr. Hoisington was missionary 
to Ceylon, then pastor in Williamstown, afterward in 
Essex, Connecticut, where he died a little time since. 
The history of the others, especially of Dr. Lord, Dr. 
Heacock, Mr. Coit, Mr. Bigelow, Mr. Cook, and Mr. 
Johnson, is too In.miliar to need mention. 

In the protracted investigation which I have been 
obliged to make, to obtain the history to which you 
have so patiently listened, I have not failed to find 
evidence of human ft'ailty in the conduct of individual 
members of the church, and I may add, perhaps, in 
current opinions and usages, and modes of advancing 
the cause of the Redeemer. But I have not thought 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 79 



it necessary to exhume buried infirmities, oi- o-ive a 
secojLcl life to faults that have had their day already. 
Let the pall of forgetfulness cover all the frailties 
which the past has witnessed, and let us be eager to 
preserve and embalm only the virtues of the lionored 
and the dead. 

Reflecting upon this history of half a century, the 
first thing that strikes the mind is the amazing con- 
trasts of the present and the past. 

Fifty years ago, there were five hundred people in 
Buffalo. To-day, there are nearly one hundred thou- 
sand. 

Fifty years ago, there were five day schools in the 
town, with less than a hundred pupils. To-day, there 
are thirty-three public schools, in charge of nearly two 
hundred teachers, with an attendance of nearly thirteen 
thousand children, and at an annual cost of about a 
hundred thousand dollars. The school property in 
Buffalo is valued at a little less than tlircc^ hundred 
thousand dollars. 

Fifty years ago, there was one church in the village, 
with a membership of twenty-nine, and a congregation 
of less than a hundred. To-day, there are forty-two 
Protestant and thirteen Roman Catholic churches in the 
city. Of the former, seven are Presbyterian, eight 
Methodist, eight Episcopal, three Baptist, one Bethel, 
and eleven German. 

Fifty years ago, there was one Sabbath School, with 
one teacher, and eight or ten pupils. Now, there are in 
the Presbyterian churches alone, thirteen schools, with 
three hundred teachers, and nearly two thousand pupils. 



80 THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 

Fifty years ago, there were four or five vessels on 
the lake, whose value might have been ten thousand 
dollars. There are now fourteen hundred vessels, with 
a tonnage of six millions, employing one hundred and 
forty-five thousand seamen, and valued at thii'teen and 
a half millions of dollars. Besides these, there are 
more than three thousand boats on the canal, having a 
tonnage of more than five hundred thousand, and an 
estimated value of three and a half millions of dollars. 

Fifty years ago, not a bushel of grain, of any kind, 
was brought into Buffalo. This year, there have been 
landed at your docks, twenty-six and a half millions of 
bushels of wheat, twenty-one of corn, and nearly two 
and a half of other grains. 

Fifty years ago, the value of our exports was noth- 
ing. This year, it is $57,834,888. 

Sixty years ago, the assessors' roll put down the 
taxable property of the village at $2,229. The as- 
sessed value of real estate in Buffalo, this year, is 
nearly forty-two millions of dollars. 

At the center of all this activity, and in the heart 
of all this growth, is the religion of Christ embodied 
in these churches, and kept alive from generation to 
generation, by the labors and the prayers of the faithful. 

Looking again upon the history of these fifty bygone 
years, we cannot but remark upon the assistance ren- 
dered to the church and to the city, by the churches 
in the East. More than half of those who have sus- 
tained and carried forward this society have come to 
us from beyond the Hudson. Those eastern churches 
in Connecticut, in Massachusetts, in Rhode Island, in 



HALF CENTURY DISCOURSE. 81 



Vermont, are not living in \-aiii. They are Clirist's 
schools, where young men are trained for usefulness 
and power in distant and destitute fields. May God 
prosper them, and make them nurseries of a sanctified 
manhood, for many generations to come. 

Reflecting still upon the history of these fifty years, 
how clear it is, that the churches in this city are doing 
a constant and mighty work in States and cities further 
west. In fifty years, this church has sent out as many 
as six hundred men and women to assist in founding 
or building up young churches and cities in the West. 
Of how much consequence to a people in such circum- 
stances, is a high standard of integrity, a standard and 
a style of culture that shall furnish able, consistent and 
holy men — men who shall be to the cities where they 
reside what Callender, and Bryant, and Seymour, and 
Stocking, were to us. 

Nor can we conclude our survey of the histoiy of 
these fifty years, without remarking upon the character 
and power of that religion which has had a place in 
this church from the beginning. The religion of the 
Presbyterian Church, the religion of Calvinism and the 
Covenant has often encountered the reproach of those 
who can see no divinity in Christ, and no depravity 
in man. You have lately been told that it was found 
necessary, a quarter of a century ago, to set up even 
in this city a standing protest against the doctrines 
and inhumanities of Calvinism. But Calvinism, as 
taught and illustrated in the Presbyterian Church, has 
had an experiment of fifty years in this community. 
It began its work when there were none to compete, 



I 



82 



THE FIRST CHURCH IN BUFFALO. 



and none to complain. It planted a churcli. It pub- 
lished the gospel. It fostered learning. It cherished 
virtue. It inspired manliness. It instigated thrift. 
Gathering around itself in these fifty years twenty 
thousand souls, men, and mothers, and children, it has 
guided, and admonished, and helped these, while it 
has adorned sixteen hundred of its own disciples with 
the virtues of a regenerate and holy life. In doing 
this, it has accomplished a work, which whoever passes 
by may easily behold. It has had an ample trial — 
let it have judgment according to its fruits. 



:P O E Is/L: 



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